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A New History of the World 



A New History of the World 





Other Volumes in Preparation 




A New History of the World 

to 45 

1 i 


Made and Printed in Or eat Britain. 

Hazdl, Watson A Viney, Ld. t London and Aylesbvry, 



THIS series has been undertaken to provide for the ordinary 
citizen a popular account of the history of his own and other 
nations, a chronicle of those movements of the past of which 
the effect is not yet exhausted, and which are still potent for 
the peace and comfort of the present. The writers conceive 
history as a living thing of the most urgent consequence to the 
men of to-day ; they regard the world around us as an organic 
growth dependent upon a long historic ancestry. The modern 
view of history apart from the pedantry of certain specialists 
is a large view, subordinating the mere vicissitudes of 
dynasties and parliaments to those more fateful events which 
are the true milestones of civilisation. Clio has become an 
active goddess and her eyes range far. History is, of course, 
like all sciences, the quest for a particular kind of truth, but 
that word " truth" has been given a generous interpretation. 
The older type of historian was apt to interest himself chiefly 
in the doings of kings and statesmen, the campaigns of generals 
and the contests of parties. These no doubt are important, 
but they are not the whole, and to insist upon them to the 
exclusion of all else is to make the past an unfeatured wilderness, 
where the only personalities are generals on horseback, judges 
in ermine and monarchs in purple. Nowadays, whatever we 
may lack in art, we have gained in science. The plain man has 
come to his own, and, as Lord Acton has put it, " The true 
historian must now take his meals in the kitchen." 

The War brought the meaning of Ijistory home to the world. 
Events which befell long ago suddenly became disruptive forces 
to shatter a man's ease, and he realised that what had seemed 
only a phrase in the textbooks might be a thing to die for. 
The Armistice left an infinity of problems, no one of which 
could be settled without tracing its roots into the past. Both 
time and space seemed to have " closed up." Whether we 
like it or not, our isolation is shattered, and not the remotest 
nation can now draw in its skirts from its neighbours. The 
consequence must be that even those who are averse to science, 
and prefer to settle everything by rule of thumb, will be forced 


to reconsider their views. Foreign politics have become again, 
as they were in the age of Pitt and Castlereagh, of Palmerston 
and Disraeli, urgent matters for every electorate. The average 
citizen recognises that the popular neglect of the subject con- 
tributed in no small degree to the War, and that problems in 
foreign affairs are as vital to him as questions of tariff and 
income tax. Once it used to be believed that a country might 
be rich while its neighbours were poor ; now even the dullest 
is aware that economically the whole world is tightly bound 
together, and that the poverty of a part lessens the prosperity 
of the whole. A merchant finds his profits shrinking because 
of the rate of exchange in a land which was his chief market ; 
he finds his necessary raw material costly and scarce because 
of the dislocation of industry in some far-away country. He 
recognises that no nation is commercially sufficient to itself, 
and he finds himself crippled, not by the success, but by the 
failure of his foreign colleagues. It is the same in other matters 
than commerce. Peace is every man's chief interest, but a 
partial peace is impossible. The world is so closely linked 
that one recalcitrant unit may penalise all the others. 

In these circumstances it is inevitable that interest in foreign 
countries, often an unwilling and angry interest, should be 
compulsory for large classes which up to now have scarcely 
given the matter a thought. An understanding of foreign 
conditions though at first it may not be a very sympathetic 
understanding is forced upon us by the needs of our daily 
life. This understanding, if it is to be of the slightest 
value, must be based upon some knowledge of history, and 
Clio will be compelled to descend from the schools to the 
market-place. Of all the movements of the day none is more 
hopeful than the spread through all classes of a real, though 
often incoherent, desire for education. Partly it is a fruit of 
the War. Men realise that battles were not won by muddling 
through ; that as long as we muddled we stuck fast, and that 
when we won it was because we used our brains to better 
purpose than our opponents. Partly it is the consequence of 
the long movement towards self-conscious citizenship, which 
some call democracy. Most thinking people to-day believe 
that knowledge spread in the widest commonalty is the only 
cure for many ills. They believe that education in the most 
real sense does not stop with school or college ; indeed, that 
true education may only begin when the orthodox curriculum 
is finished. They believe, further, that this fuller training 
comes by a man's own efforts and is not necessarily dependent 


upon certain advantages in his early years. Finally, they 
are assured that true education cannot be merely technical or 
professional instruction ; that it must deal in the larger sense 
with what are called the " humanities." If this diagnosis is 
correct, then the study of history must play a major part in 
the equipment of the citizen of the future. 

I propose in these few pages to suggest certain reasons why 
the cultivation of the historical sense is of special value at 
this moment. The utilitarian arguments are obvious enough, 
but I would add to them certain considerations of another kind. 

Man, as we know, is long-descended, and so are human society 
and the State. That society is a complex thing, the result of 
a slow organic growth and no mere artificial machine. In a 
living thing such as the State growth must be continuous, like 
the growth of a plant. Every gardener knows that in the 
tending of plants you cannot make violent changes, that you 
cannot transplant a well-grown tree at your pleasure from a 
wooded valley to the bare summit of a hill, that you cannot 
teach rhododendrons to love lime, or grow plants which need 
sun and dry soil in a shady bog. A new machine-made thing 
is simple, but the organic is always subtle and complex. Now, 
half the mischiefs in politics come from a foolish simplification. 
Take two familiar conceptions, the " political man " and the 
" economic man." Those who regard the citizen purely as a 
political animal, divorce him from all other aspects, moral and 
spiritual, in framing their theory of the State. In the same 
way the " economic man " is isolated from all other relations, 
and, if he is allowed to escape from the cage of economic science 
into political theory, will work havoc in that delicate sphere. 
Both are false conceptions, if our problem is to find out the 
best way to make actual human beings live together in 
happiness and prosperity. Neither, as a matter of fact, ever 
existed or could exist, and any polity based upon either would 
have the harshness and rigidity and weakness of a machine. 

We have seen two creeds grow up rooted in these abstractions, 
and the error of both lies in the fact that they are utterly 
unhistorical, that they have been framed without any sense 
of the continuity of history. In what we call Prussianism a 
citizen was regarded as a cog in a vast machine called the 
State, to which he surrendered his liberty of judgment and his 
standard of morals. He had no rights against it and no person- 
ality distinct from it. The machine admitted no ethical 
principles which might interfere with its success, and the 


citizen, whatever his private virtues, was compelled to conform 
to this inverted anarchy. Moreover, the directors of the 
machine regarded the world as if it were a smooth, flat high- 
road. If there were hollows and hills created by time, they 
must be flattened out to make the progress of the machine 
smoother and swifter. The past had no meaning ; all problems 
were considered on the supposition that human nature was 
like a mathematical quantity, and that solutions could be 
obtained by an austere mathematical process. The result was 
tyranny, a highly efficient tyranny, which nevertheless was 
bound to break its head upon the complexities of human nature. 
Such was Prussianism, against which we fought for four years, 
and which for the time is out of fashion. Bolshevism, to use 
the convenient word, started with exactly the same view. It 
believed that you could wipe the slate quite clean and write on 
it what you pleased, that you could build a new world with 
human beings as if they were little square blocks in a child's 
box of bricks. Karl Marx, from whom it derived much of its 
dogma, interpreted history as only the result of economic 
forces ; he isolated the economic aspect of man from every 
other aspect and desired to re-create society on a purely 
economic basis. Bolshevism, though it wandered very far 
from Marx's doctrine, had a similar point of view. It sought 
with one sweep of the sponge to blot out all past history, and 
imagined that it could build its castles of bricks without troubling 
about foundations. It also was a tyranny, the worse tyranny 
of the two, perhaps because it was the stupider. It has had its 
triumphs and its failures, and would now appear to be declining ; 
but it, or something of the sort, will come again, since it 
represents the eternal instinct of theorists who disregard history, 
and who would mechanise and unduly simplify human life. 

There will always be much rootless stuff in the world. In 
almost every age the creed which lies at the back of Bolshevism 
and Prussianism is preached in some form or other. The 
revolutionary and the reactionary are alike devotees of the 
mechanical. The safeguard against experiments which can 
only end in chaos is the wide diffusion of the historical sense, 
and the recognition that " counsels to which Time hath not 
been called, Time will not ratify." 

The second reason is that a sense of history is a safeguard 
against another form of abstraction. Ever since the War the 
world has indulged in a debauch of theorising, and the con- 
sequence has been an orgy of catchwords and formulas, which, 


unless they are critically examined, are bound to turn political 
discussion into a desert. The weakening of the substance of 
many accepted creeds seems to have disposed men to cling 
more feverishly to their shibboleths. Take any of our con- 
temporary phrases " self-determination," " liberty," " the 
right to work," " the right to maintenance," " the proletariat," 
44 class consciousness," " international solidarity," and so forth. 
They all have a kind of dim meaning, but as they are currently 
used they have many very different meanings, and these 
meanings are often contradictory. I think it was Lord Acton 
who once said he had counted two hundred definitions of 
44 liberty." Abraham Lincoln's words are worth remembering : 
" The world has never yet had a good definition of the word 
4 liberty,' and the American people just now are much in want 
of one. We are all declaring for liberty ; for in using the 
same word we do not all mean the same thing. We assume 
the word 4 liberty ' to mean that each worker can do as he 
pleases with himself and the product of his labour, while, on 
the other hand, it may mean that some man can do as he 
pleases with other men and the product of other men's labour." 
Are we not in the same difficulty to-day ? Perhaps the worst 
sinner in this respect is the word " democracy." As commonly 
used, it has a dozen quite distinct meanings, when it has any 
meaning at all, and we are all familiar in political discussions 
with the circular argument that such and such a measure is 
good for the people because it is democratic ; and if it be asked 
why it is democratic, the answer is, " Because it is good for the 
people." " Democratic " really describes that form of govern- 
ment in which the policy of the State is determined and its 
business conducted by the will of the majority of its citizens, 
expressed through some regular channel. It is a word which 
denotes machinery, not purpose. " Popular," often used as 
an equivalent, means merely that the bulk of the people approve 
of a particular mode of government. 44 Liberal," the other 
assumed equivalent, implies those notions of freedom, toleration 
and pacific progress which lie at the roots of Western civilisation. 
The words are clearly not interchangeable. A policy or a 
government may be popular without being liberal or demo- 
cratic ; there have been highly popular tyrannies ; the German 
policy of 1914 was popular, but it was not liberal, nor was 
Germany a democracy. America is a democracy, but it is not 
always liberal ; the French Republic has at various times in 
its history been both liberal and democratic without being 
popular. Accurately employed, " democratic " describes a 


particular method, "popular" an historical fact, "liberal" 
a quality and an ideal. The study of history will make us 
chary about the loud, vague use of formulas. It will make us 
anxious to see catchwords in their historical relations, and 
will help us to realise the maleficent effect of phrases which 
have a fine rhetorical appeal, but very little concrete meaning. 
If political science is to be anything but a vicious form of 
casuistry it is very necessary to give its terms an exact inter- 
pretation, for their slipshod use will tend to create false 
oppositions and conceal fundamental agreements, and thereby 
waste the energy of mankind in empty disputation. 

The third reason for the study of history is that it enables 
a man to take a balanced view of current problems, for a 
memory stored with historical parallels is the best preventive 
both against panic and over- confidence. Such a view does not 
imply the hard-and-fast deduction of so-called laws, which 
was a habit of many of the historians of the nineteenth century. 
Exact parallels with the past are hard to find, and nothing is 
easier than to draw false conclusions. A facile philosophy of 
history is, as Stubbs once said, " in nine cases out of ten a 
generalisation founded rather on the ignorance of points in 
which particulars differ, than in any strong grasp of one in 
which they agree." Precedents from the past have often been 
used with disastrous results. In our own Civil War the dubious 
behaviour of the Israelites on various occasions was made an 
argument for countless blunders and tyrannies. In the same 
way the French Revolution has been used as a kind of arsenal 
for bogus parallels, both by revolutionaries and conservatives, 
and the most innocent reformers have been identified with 
Robespierre and St. Just. During the Great War the air was 
thick with these false precedents. In the Gallipoli Expedition, 
for example, it was possible to draw an ingenious parallel 
between that affair and the Athenian Expedition to Syracuse, 
and much needless depression was the consequence. At the 
outbreak of the Russian Revolution there were many who 
saw in it an exact equivalent to the Revolution of 1788 and 
imagined that the new Russian revolutionary armies would be 
as invincible as those which repelled the invaders of France. 
There have been eminent teachers in recent years whose mind 
has been so obsessed with certain superficial resemblances 
between the third century of the Christian era and our own 
times that they have prophesied an impending twilight of 
civilisation. Those of us who have been engaged in arguing the 


case for the League of Nations are confronted by its opponents 
with a dozen inaccurate parallels from history, and the famous 
plea of the " thin edge of the wedge " is usually based upon a 
mistaken use of the same armoury. 

A wise man will be chary of drawing dapper parallels and 
interpreting an historical lesson too rigidly. At the same 
time there are certain general deductions which are sound and 
helpful. For example, we all talk too glibly of revolution, 
and many imagine that, whether they like it or not, a clean 
cut can be made, and the course of national life turn suddenly 
and violently in a different direction. But history gives no 
warrant for such a view. There have been many thousands 
of revolutions since the world began ; nearly all have been 
the work of minorities, often small minorities ; and nearly 
all, after a shorter or longer period of success, have utterly 
failed. The French Revolution altered the face of the world, 
but only when it had ceased to be a revolution and had 
developed into an absolute monarchy. So with the various 
outbreaks of 1848. So conspicuously with the Russian Revolu- 
tion of to-day, which has developed principles the exact opposite 
of those with which it started. The exception proves the rule, 
as we see in the case of our own English Revolution of 1688. 
Properly considered, that was not a revolution, but a reaction. 
The revolution had been against the personal and unlimited 
monarchy of the Stuarts. In 1688 there was a return to the 
normal development of English society, which had been violently 
broken. It may fairly be said that a revolution to be successful 
must be a reaction that is, it must be a return to an organic 
historical sequence, which for some reason or other has been 

Parallels are not to be trusted, if it is attempted to elaborate 
them in detail, but a sober and scientific generalisation may 
be of high practical value. At the close of the Great War 
many people indulged in roseate forecasts of a new world a 
land fit for heroes to live in, a land inspired with the spirit of 
the trenches, a land of co-operation and national and inter- 
national goodwill. Such hasty idealists were curiously blind 
to the lessons of the past, and had they considered what 
happened after the Napoleonic wars they might have found a 
juster perspective. With a curious exactness the history of 
the three years after Waterloo has repeated itself to-day. 
There were the same economic troubles the same rise in the 
cost of living, with which wages could not keep pace ; the 
same shrinking of foreign exports owing to difficulties of 

F 1 


exchange ; the same cataclysmic descent of agricultural prices 
from the high levels of the war ; the same hostility to profiteers ; 
the same revolt against high taxation, and the same impossi- 
bility of balancing budgets without it. The Property tax 
then was equivalent of our Excess Profits tax, and it is interesting 
to note that it was abolished in spite of the Government because 
the commercial community rose against it. There was the 
same dread of revolution, and the same blunders in the handling 
of labour, and there was relatively far greater suffering. Yet 
the land, in spite of countless mistakes, passed through the 
crisis and emerged into the sunlight of prosperity. In this 
case historic precedent is not without its warrant for hope. 

One charge has been brought against the study of history 
that it may kill reforming zeal. This has been well put by 
Lord Morley : " The study of all the successive stages and 
beliefs, institutions, laws, forms of art, only too soon grows 
into a substitute for practical criticism of all these things upon 
their merits and in themselves. Too exclusive attention to 
dynamic aspects weakens the energetic duties of the static. 
The method of history is used merely like any other scientific 
instrument. There is no more conscience in your comparative 
history than there is in comparative anatomy. You arrange 
ideals in classes and series ; but the classified ideal loses its 
vital spark and halo." There is justice in the warning, for a 
man may easily fall into the mood in which he sees everything 
as a repetition of the past, and the world bound on the iron 
bed of necessity, and may therefore lose his vitality and zest 
in the practical work of to-day. It is a danger to be guarded 
against, but to me it seems a far less urgent menace than its 
opposite the tendency to forget the past and to adventure in 
a raw new world without any chart to guide us. History gives 
us a kind of chart, and we dare not surrender even a small 
rushlight in the darkness. The hasty reformer who does not 
remember the past will find himself condemned to repeat it. 

There is little to sympathise with in the type of mind which 
is always inculcating a lack-lustre moderation, and which has 
attained to such a pitch of abstraction that it finds nothing 
worth doing and prefers to stagnate in ironic contemplation. 
Nor is there more to be said for the temper which is always 
halving differences in a problem and trying to find a middle 
course. The middle course, mechanically defined, may be the 
wrong course. The business of a man steering up a difficult 
estuary is to keep to the deep-water channel, and that channel 


may at one hour take him near the left shore and at another 
hour close to the right shore. The path of false moderation 
sticks to the exact middle of the channel, and will almost 
certainly land the pilot on a sandbank. These are the vices 
that spring from a narrow study of history and the remedy is 
a broader and juster interpretation. At one season it may 
be necessary to be a violent innovator, and at another to be 
a conservative ; but the point is that a clear objective must 
be there, and some chart of the course to steer by. History 
does not provide a perfect chart, but it gives us something 
better than guess-work. It is a bridle on crude haste ; but 
it is not less a spur for timidity and false moderation. Above 
all it is a guide and a comforter to sane idealism. " The true 
Past departs not," Carlyle wrote, " nothing that was worthy 
in the Past departs ; no Truth or Goodness realised by man 
ever dies, or can die ; but all is still here, and, recognised or 
not, lives and works through endless change." 




A HISTORY of France written by Englishmen for an English- 
speaking public, in a spirit of warm sympathy, but also and 
inevitably from the point of view of British tradition and 
British understanding : such is the bold undertaking of the 
authors of this book. I can imagine no other equally audacious, 
except a history of Great Britain written by Frenchmen. Both, 
however, deserve to be published. 

We are near neighbours. One hour only of sea separates us. 
The great events of recent years have wedded the sacred blood 
of our dead. Yet we remain mysteries to one another, mysteries 
that geography, racial traits, political history and social 
development have gradually built up in the course of centuries. 
On the one hand, a seafaring nation ; on the other, a con- 
tinental nation. On the one hand, a people without neigh- 
bours ; on the other, a people with an open frontier. In 
England, a polity the result of long experience, and free from 
Roman influence ; in France, a love of Latin logic, impregnated 
with syllogisms. In England, laws which change without need 
of abrogation ; in France, constitutions built up before any 
attempt is made to test their materials. Two monarchies, 
different in origin and different in development ; the one 
destroying feudalism, the other always furnishing new blood to 
its aristocracy. Evolution opposed to revolution ; great landed 
estates opposed to small holdings ; commerce opposed to 
agriculture. One might develop these never-ending contrasts 
through hundreds of pages. Nothing is more difficult for an 
Englishman than to understand, in the bottom of his heart, 
the soul of France unless it be for a Frenchman to grasp, in 
his innermost being, the soul of England. 

This very book, written in an honest endeavour to understand, 
shows how difficult it is ; and more than once, as I read it, I 
was tempted to join issue with it. I have resisted the tempta- 
tion, for however much I may disagree with some of its con- 


elusions, I am, nevertheless, greatly impressed by the immense 
value of the effort it represents. The attempt has been 
made to help the English-speaking public, in readily accessible 
form, to know a nation which it respects and loves. In all 
things essential, the aim has been achieved ; but there are 
certain points to which I would call attention. 

Nothing is more of one piece than the history of France. 
People have been tempted at times to cut it up into conflicting 
phases. Our modern historians have caught up the endless 
thread, and brought out the continuity even in the acts of our 
great Revolution of the constant aims of the Monarchy. 
Throughout the centuries we have pursued the same work of 
cohesion, under the menace of the same aggressor. England, 
protected by the seas, has been able to play skittles with every 
kind of European political combination. Not so France. Even 
during the short period in which we have had natural frontiers, 
those frontiers have not sufficed to protect us. The Rhine has 
always been crossed. As to the moral consequences of the 
invasions, this also has not changed. Tacitus defined it ... 
he might, in 1914, have repeated himself word for word. 

Hence, our national soul has an impress which the English 
find it hard to understand. What better proof could one have 
than the contrast between their state of mind and ours since the 
Armistice. England, her warlike interlude finished, considered 
that she had won the war, once and for all. France, weighted 
down by centuries of experience, was content to know that she 
had won a war ; for the eternal danger lying in the will of 
sixty million Germans survived the victory. The greatest 
obstacle to a wholesome carrying out of our indispensable 
alliance lies in the fact that so many Englishmen are incapable 
of understanding this fundamental truth. 

Another similar misunderstanding the spirit of inconstancy 
with which we are too often charged. We are a country of 
continuity. The magnificent effort wrought by the Monarchy 
had tended to make of France the most united nation in 
Europe ; the first act of the Revolution was to declare the 
Republic one and indivisible. The struggle of the central power 
against local bodies was waged by the Kings before it was 
waged by democrats : Richelieu beheaded just as many people 
as the Convention. The determination of the State to ensure its 
independence from spiritual power dates from its very beginning ; 
and the Republican laity of the nineteenth century had a worthy 
forerunner in Philippe le Bel. In her inner life, as in her 
European life, France has ever obeyed unchanging laws. That 


is why eight years ago she was so spontaneous in her sacrifice 
for her own salvation and for the salvation of the world of a 
million and a half of her sons. 

In recalling this harmonious unity of French history I bring, 
it seems to me, a necessary conclusion to a book which, in order 
to be clear, had of necessity to lay stress upon the successive 
phases. Follow the patient or abrupt effort of great ministers 
of the Republic Thiers, Gambetta, Ferry, Waldeck- Rousseau, 
Delcasse, Clemenceau and you will discern in the diversity of 
their methods, and even in their very errors, the common per- 
ception of those higher ideals of national power which before 
them inspired the great ministers of our Kings. Each of these 
men has been criticised : each of them had his share in the com- 
mon triumph when, forty- seven years after the Treaty of 
Frankfort, the Treaty of Versailles consecrated the triumph of 

France on the morrow of her victory is the same as she has 
always been. She remains a rationalist ; she believes in the 
value of international contracts as she does in the virtue of 
constitutions. Our American friends, when they first for 
reasons which were not altogether of an impersonal or diplomatic 
order refused to be bound by the signatures solemnly ex- 
changed, dealt, without intention and without calculating its 
effect, a serious blow to the moral health of France. British 
imperialism, being now put at its ease, did not refrain in turn 
from suggesting certain modifications to the signed under- 
takings. Lord Balfour declares, not without pride, that England 
has no constitution. Why, then, should we be surprised that 
the English understand less than we do the necessity of a 
constitution for Europe ? 

Much trouble was caused thereby. What is the good of 
shutting one's eyes to it, when everybody is suffering from it ? 
Europe lacks an acknowledged law. Now a law, even though 
not absolutely satisfactory to each of those countries interested, 
as was a treaty signed by so many nations, is still better than 
no law at all. Peace, based on mutual concessions, had together 
been negotiated by the Allies and Associates. Peace has not 
been put into execution by the Allies and Associates, together. 
From this is derived much of our present difficulty. 

If France, at the beginning of 1920, had asserted this truth, 
I believe her voice would have been heard. Those who spoke 
in her name have not found the right words. This incompetency 
has cost us all dear. It is no easy matter, now that for two 
years the nations have ceased to have faith in the binding 


character of treaties signed in their names, to establish an 
acknowledged law in any part of the world. 

Of all nations none has suffered from this anarchy more than 
France. It is alleged that we are discontented and nervous ; 
it would be truer to say that after five years of confidence, born 
of the most splendid of Ententes, we have become sceptical. 
We have no doubts of ourselves. We are at work. We are 
bravely bearing an unprecedented financial burden. We are 
rebuilding our ruins. . . . But we cannot forget that a Treaty 
cruelly mutilated in the course of the last year had promised 
us that Germany should pay for the lives and property she had 
destroyed. And when we see how little material and moral 
support has been given to our Right, we sometimes doubt not 
of ourselves but of others, even those we love the best. 

I ask, with all the strength that for twenty years I have 
placed at the service of the Entente Cordiale I ask our com- 
rades of war to understand that since 1920, by the fault of men 
and circumstances, France, which is actually the most powerful 
nation in Europe, has suffered morally from a solitude which is 
no bearer of good counsel. It was an English philosopher who 
said, " My right is your duty : my duty is your right." France 
believes her right is so clear that it imposes upon others duties 
equally clear. 

Our history is replete with triumphs and with sorrows, and 
of these sorrows Victory healed the cruellest. Pacific for four 
and forty years, despite the dismemberment of our country, 
in the face of aggression we rewelded our national unity. Not 
a single human being was placed beneath our sovereignty who 
was not, and had not long been, French at heart. Our wish is 
for Peace. But Peace, according to us, means : reparations 
for the past and present, security for the future. In our ceme- 
teries, too small for our dead, our children learn of the horrors 
of war. But they also learn that the dead must not have died 
in vain, and the arms of the crosses stretched out over this land 
repeat the solemn warning " Security ; Reparations." 

On reading, in this book, of our slow and laborious progress, 
our English-speaking friends will learn something of our soul, 
overjoyed yesterday by the most righteous of victories, crushed 
to-day by two parlous years which, when posterity writes their 
history, will reflect honour upon no Government. When, 
shoulder to shoulder, facing the enemy, French, British, Ameri- 
cans, Belgians, Italians all felt that they were one, they were 
right ; for man is not mistaken in the face of death. If to-day 
they find themselves less closely united, it is because since the 


Armistice they have turned their backs on this truth. All 
together let us work to undo the errors which none can longer 
deny, that there may be reborn for us, in the labours of Peace, 
that splendid brotherhood of the fields of battle. 




THIS volume has been prepared under the care of Major-General 
Lord Edward Gleichen. History, down to 1871, is the work 
of Mr. Arthur Hassall, M.A., Student and Tutor of Christ 
Church, Oxford. It is preceded by an introductory chapter, the 
work of Mr. Hilaire Belloc. The section on the Third Republic 
is by the late Mr. J. R. Moreton Macdonald of Largie. Major- 
General Sir Frederick Maurice, K.C.M.G., C.B. (late Director of 
Military Operations, General Staff, during the War), is responsible 
for Military Operations in the Great War, and Mr. George Adam, 
recently the Times correspondent in Paris, for the chapters 
on France behind the War-Zone and Peace and After. The 
chapter on 1922 is by Captain L. Kennedy, M.C., and Mr. Stephen 
Gwynn has written on French Civilisation and Character. The 
section dealing with the Economic Position of France is based 
on a valuable and largely statistical contribution by M. Etienne 
Clementel, late French Minister of Commerce in M. Clemen- 
ceau's Government; whilst the two chapters on Finance are 
by Mr. Gordon D. Knox, the Morning Post correspondent in 






BY ANDRE TARDIEU, Minister of the Liberated Regions 
in the Cabinet of M. CUmenceau, and Plenipotentiary 
of France at the Peace Conference 
NOTE . . ... . . . . .10 



I. THE CAROLINGIANS (800-987). . . 24 


n. THE CAPETS (987-1328) . .25 


WAR (1328-1491) .... 28 


IV. THE STRUGGLE FOR ITALY (1491-1559) . 32 
V. THE WARS OF RELIGION (1559-1610) . 38 

VI. LOUIS xiii (1610-1643) .... 46 
vii. LOUIS xiv (1643-1715) .... 50 


vni. LOUIS xv (1715-1774) .... 63 


1799) 69 



XI. THE FALL (1811-1815) .... 






REPUBLIC (1815-1852) ... 85 


XIV. THE FALL OF THE EMPIRE (1870-1871) . 99 


XV. THE FORMING OF THE REPUBLIC (1871-1875) . 105 
XVI. EARLY STRUGGLES (1875-1882) . . .124 

XVII. THE REPUBLIC IN BEING (1882-1894). . . 137 

POLICY (1894-1900) 152 


1914) 174 


XXI. MILITARY OPERATIONS (1914-1918) . . . 180 


(a) THE OUTBREAK OF WAR .... 210 





XXIV. 1919-1921 235 



xxv. 1922 237 


AFTER 241 



INTRODUCTORY ....... 265 


(b) INDUSTRY ....... 273 

(c) COMMERCE . . . . . . .278 

(d) TRANSPORT . 279 



(a) PAST 281 

(b) PRESENT . . . . > > 285 


ARMY ......... 295 

NAVY 296 



INDEX 301 


FRANCE OF TO-DAY ...... Opp. p. 5 


OF VERDUN, A.D. 843 . . . . 24 

FRANCE IN 1429 ....... 31 

FRANCE IN 1610-1715 ....... 48 

CENTRAL EUROPE, 1812 , . . . 83 


At end 






BEFORE discussing the effect of physical conditions upon the 
growth of a nation one must define one's material. Some write 
as though nations were made by their physical conditions. It 
is not so. A nation, being composed of men, is made by the 
characters of those men. Physical conditions are but limiting 
and directing agencies. They do not make. 

The nation now called the French, and of old the Gauls, forms 
a highly distinct moral unity which was present on the same 
soil (equally distinct) at the beginning of recorded history. 
With the exception of a tiny corner in the south-west, inhabited 
by the quite separate Basque race, the whole quadrilateral of 
Gaul is stamped with a common tradition, and presumably a 
common origin, apparent in expression, gesture and everything 
else which marks the type of a race. 

But the physical conditions under which that race has lived 
have powerfully affected both its character and the part which 
it has had to play in history ; and a catalogue of these physical 
limiting circumstances must be drawn up before we can follow 
the history of the people. In the first place, let us note the 

The geographical boundaries of the French people or Gauls 
are peculiarly sharp, i.e. marked out with peculiar clarity by 
nature. They are the singularly exact line of the Pyrenean 
crest in the south, stretching the whole way from the Atlantic 
to the Mediterranean. It is a wall a parallel to which does not 
exist anywhere else in Europe, for its evenness, simplicity and 
absence of low passes, as also for its completeness as a barrier, 
rising, as it does, straight out of the sea at either end. On the 
other land frontier, that on the east, something like half of the 
line is similarly marked by the crest of high mountains, the Alps 
and (after .the narrow and difficult gate of the Rhdne) the Jura. 

But from the Jura north-west to the sea the frontier, though 
in the main natural, is less clear. You have, indeed, for the 
first hundred miles of it or so the wooded crest of the Vosges 
Range, but after that there is an open plain or gap until you 

F 2 n 


strike the edge of the great Northern Woods beyond the plain 
of Metz, and this gap may conveniently be called " The Gap of 
Lorraine." The great Northern Woods (the remains of which 
are variously known as the Ardennes Forest, and further north 
by sundry local names) originally formed a natural obstacle 
and frontier as perfect as any mountain chain. Civilisation 
has cleared them until now the passages between their various 
portions are numerous and wide. But their original effect 
limiting the Gauls is still plain. 

Lastly, between the vague northern edges of these woods 
and the sea you have the confused flat and rolling land of 
Flanders, in which no natural limit is set. 

Everywhere else to the north, to the west, to the south the 
French race is bounded by the sea. 

Such is the frame. Its general statement is, of course, subject 
to numerous exceptions, due in the main to the combatant 
energy of the race set within that frame. There has been an 
overflow of the race north of the Great Woods and also down 
the only practicable valley piercing the Great Woods, that of 
the Meuse. Again in the gap of Lorraine there has been an 
overflow several miles beyond the shortest line between the 
Vosges and the Great Woods. Again there has been an overflow 
beyond the Jura, and even here and there an accidental push 
beyond the main ranges of the Alps. There has also been a 
considerable extension of the Gaulic type through the only 
easy passage of the Pyrenees the Cerdagne. 1 Similarly there 
have been slight impositions of foreign blood and even foreign 
colonial effort within the quadrilateral of Gaul, though very 
few of its effects can be traced, so rapidly were the numerically 
insignificantly alien elements absorbed in the general type. 
Thus, there were Greek and even Phoenician settlements along 
the southern coast, some slight Germanic elements introduced 
into the north and east, and even a sprinkling in the south 
through the presence of Germanic mercenaries in the Roman 
armies (Franks, Goths, Burgundians), a touch of Scandinavian 
blood for a generation or two in the Province of the second 
Lyonesse (which we now call Normandy), etc. But in the main 

1 We need not trouble ourselves about language, which is no index of 
national type ; still less with the guesses of anthropologists drawn from the 
measurements of skulls, and so forth. A national type is a thing which anyone 
can recognise and bear witness to. It is a reality. The other categories are 
guesswork or illusory. It is no good, for instance, to tell us that Devonshire is 
" Keltic" and Norfolk " Teutonic," for a Devon man and a Norfolk man are 
clearly both of them Englishmen, and the fact that they are Englishmen is the 
important reality compared with which these new "scientific" categories are 


the boundaries are and have been, from the beginning of recorded 
history, those here stated, and their effect in bounding the 
race and keeping it within a certain fairly definite area with 
all the consequent results of unity and intensification of the 
national effort are apparent throughout the 2,000 years and 
more of its recorded history. 

Within that framework are to be noted certain physical 
characteristics which have modified the history of its inhabitants. 
The first of these the most important is the presence of the 
race upon the two seas. The Gauls are the only united people 
with a common experience of the warm tideless Mediterranean 
to the south and cold, tidal waters to the north. This has 
made them at once a centre of Western civilisation and a bridge, 
the effect of which is clearly apparent to-day even in the details 
of French life. Pick up a French newspaper and you will see 
in it a general conspectus of Europe, such as you do not find 
in a newspaper published to the north or south of France. 
That which has been called the " sense of proportion " in the 
French in international politics : that which, for instance (to 
take a very recent and important example), gave France a 
continuous foreign policy which ended in the alliance with 
England and therefore success in the Great War, was due to 
this central position. 

But this central position has had, of course, many other effects. 
It makes of the French the only people familiar with, having a 
long maritime tradition of, the inner and the outer seas ; in 
modern terms, it makes them potentially both a permanent 
Mediterranean and a permanent Atlantic power. Again, it 
gives them an experience of the two somewhat sharply defined 
climatic belts between which the highest civilisation of the 
world, that of Western Europe, is divided. 

We shall not appreciate these two zones and, as I have said, 
their rather sharp contrast if we try to build them up 
synthetically upon lines of equal temperature, equal barometrical 
pressure and so forth. Here again reality is to be appreciated 
by direct observation and common experience much better 
than by exact measurement. There is, and has been from the 
beginning of recorded time, a certain climatic influence belonging 
to the inland sea and characterised by the vine and the olive. 
There is, and has been from the beginning of recorded time, a 
distinct northern climate with other fruits of the earth, other 
skies and other effects upon character. Wheat, the staple food 
of the race, is common to both. The products of the south have 
extended northward artificially ; the vine in particular has 


been carried to latitudes where it could never flourish save for 
the continuous labour and artifice of man. But the two zones 
remain quite distinct, and in nothing are they more divided 
than in this : that in the southern zone the period of the year 
in which man is most handicapped is the hot season, and in the 
northern zone the cold. The south builds and thinks in terms 
of protection against heat and too much light : the north in 
terms of protection against cold and darkness. To take the 
limiting extremes : the Italian has for his habitat the one 
climate, the Englishman the other ; the Frenchman has a 
national experience of both. And this has been of an effect 
curious to note throughout all his history. There have been, 
as it were, waves of influence from the south to the north and 
from north to the south in French history ; the last of which, 
that extending from the Renaissance to our own day, has been 
of the former character. Modern France is essentially a country 
wherein the influence of the south has expanded over the north. 
The modern domestic architecture of the French northern 
towns, their wide streets, their large open official buildings and 
the rest, are extensions of the south. But in the Middle Ages 
it was the other way. If you were travelling from York to 
Rome in, say, the twelfth century, you would have noted the 
same sort of architecture, the same way of living (the high-gabled 
roofs built for the snow, the warm, low rooms and the rest), as 
far south, say, as Vienne on the Rhone ; and Bordeaux was, 
until a good deal after the Renaissance, essentially a northern 

Now this distinction of the two zones is emphasised in France 
by the presence of a great area of mountainous, hilly and 
difficult land standing in the midst of the quadrilateral, radiating 
from and taking its name from the district occupied by the old 
Avernian tribe, which to-day we call Auvergne. A man going 
directly from south to north from Narbonne, say, to Cherbourg 
starts in the purely Mediterranean climate with a harvest in 
what we should here call the end of spring, with the southern 
fruits, and with a summer of overwhelming light. He soon 
goes up a steep wall into a desolate mountain land, and traverses 
this for many days of journeying on foot. He comes down over 
the tumbled brushwood and heath of what the Middle Ages 
called " The March " (i.e. the boundary or division), and finds 
himself in the middle Valley of the Vienne a full northern 
climate which he carries with him to the Channel. 

There is a second smaller bunch of high land which has been 
little noticed in spite of its great effect upon history. It lies 


to the north-west of the Auvergne central group and is to-day 
called the Morvan. It interrupts no communication, for there 
is low land upon either side. It contains no great city and has 
produced but very few men who have counted in the history 
of the race. Yet it has been of great effect because it was the 
pivot of Caesar's conquest. It was the home of the Aedui, 
whose constant fidelity to Rome (save in one lapse) was the 
determining factor of Caesar's success. Their very isolation 
was their power, and his support, and perhaps their rude climate 
added somewhat to their strength. 

The last and most important of the main physical circum- 
stances of Gaul to be noted are the great natural ways through 
the country, and these are in the main determined by the river 

Here we note at once an extremely important point. The 
rivers of Gaul and of its neighbourhood have never acted as 
boundaries, but always as highways. For instance, the German 
national type occupies both banks of the Rhine and has occupied 
them from the beginning of history, and though Caesar mentions 
the lower Seine as the political limit of what he calls the Belgic 
part of Gaul, yet the Seine does not appear as a true boundary 
in any of the French fighting or in any of the French variations 
of territory. It is, on the contrary, a central axis like all the 
other great French rivers. 

Further, these rivers happen, by a peculiarly geographical 
accident of great advantage to the development of the country, 
to connect by very low and flat passes. It is perhaps this 
geographical condition which has made possible, or at any rate 
accentuated, the singular unity of France throughout history. 
Note, for instance, that the watershed between the Rhone 
Valley and the Rhine, which should, one would imagine, be a 
continuous range and which is part of the great divide of Europe 
between the north and the south, is bridged by a wide, perfectly 
flat and very low gate between the Vosges and the Jura known 
as the Gap of Belfort. Note again that the Rhone Valley is 
prolonged northward by the wide and easy valley of the Saone, 
and that there is no really difficult land between the upper 
middle part of this valley and the middle Loire Basra to the 
north-west. Hence there has always been a great highway 
from south to north followed by the Roman trunk road and 
marked by the cities Marseille, Aries, Lyon, Autun, Nevers, 
Sens. By an exception rare in the communications of modern 
Europe the modern main trunk railway line does not follow 
this obvious passage. It goes round by Dijon for the sake of 


easy gradients. But the simpler and better way will almost 
certainly be restored with the reappearance of road travel. 
Again, there is the singular gap giving access from the middle 
Garonne Valley to the Mediterranean, a gap advantage of which 
is taken by the canal of the south uniting the two seas. It is 
this peculiar passage which has suggested a policy of building 
a new great modern canal capable of carrying sea-going ships 
from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean, and which has from the 
beginning of history united the Narbonnese to Toulouse and so 
on to Bordeaux. Again, it is to be noted how the great water- 
ways have converged upon natural markets or centres, of which 
Paris is the most important. Paris may be said to have been 
created by the convergence of the Oise, the Marne and the 
Seine Valleys within the one small district of the Parisis, with 
Pontoise at one end and Charenton (only a long day's walk 
away) at the other. Lyon, in the same way, is the product of 
three converging natural highways that through the Gap of 
Belfort, that through the Gateway of Geneva and that down 
the Valley of the Saone (much the most important of the three), 
which leads from north to south. Toulouse is the convergence 
of the communications of the middle Garonne and of the way 
through the gap from the Mediterranean. 

There is in all this scheme of natural passages only one excep- 
tion, an exception which still dominates the French railway 
system and all modern French travelling, and which interrupts 
the otherwise complete scheme of the French canals, and that 
is the high mass of Central Avernian land where the upper 
waters of the rivers flowing north and south have no easy 
passes leading from one to the other, but run through high 
mountain land and difficult gorges. 

A last clause must be added to this analysis : the situation and 
the character of the ports. The system of French ports suffers 
under modern conditions from one of two difficulties everywhere 
present. Either you have a good natural deep-water harbour 
well sheltered but with no great productive district immediately 
behind it, or you have comparatively shallow entries to serve 
a productive district. You have further, of course, as through- 
out northern and western Europe, a silting-up of old ports * 
and in places a rising of the land destroying their value ; but 
you have not had, as you have had upon the coast of Britain, 
corresponding subsidence in any useful place creating a new 
entry. One of the great historical contrasts hi Western Europe 
is that between the excellence of entry into Britain by the sea 
1 Cf . Abbeville, which was in the Middle Ages a seaport. 


compared with the difficulty of the entry into Gaul. This 
difficulty has had to be met by artifice. The excellent port of 
Brest naturally serves only the comparatively unproductive 
district of Brittany. The vast highway and productive Valley 
of the Loire has the difficult shallows of its mouth to contend 
with ; Nantes, the old transhipment point, is difficult for 
modern traffic. Cherbourg has been artificially created ; so 
has Havre. Rouen, pressed to its utmost, can hardly become 
a very great port, with its narrow limits upstream. Marseille 
is similarly built artificially outwards into the tideless sea with 
new jetties and is similarly somewhat distant from its main source 
of supply the Valley of the Rhone. West of Marseille there 
is no main harbour at all. They have all either silted up or 
are not of a size for the largest modern work. Bordeaux, as 
was proved in the late war, is naturally insufficient for its task, 
and again needs artificial aid. La Rochelle has to be supple- 
mented, or rather supplanted, by La Palice, and Saint Nazaire 
has performed the same office somewhat indifferently for Nantes 
in the Valley of the Loire. To this insufficiency of ports may be 
partly ascribed the retardation of French action during the 
great industrial change of the nineteenth century, though 
political factors, successive wars (domestic and foreign) and 
the absence of sufficient fuel and ore are of more account. 




ON Christmas Day 800 A.D. Charlemagne was crowned at Rome 
by Pope Leo the Third as Emperor of the Romans ; and 
thus was established the Holy Roman Empire which existed 
till 1806. The magnificent inheritance was soon however split 
up by his successors Louis le Debonnaire and Lothaire ; and 
the Partition of Verdun in 843, forced upon the latter by his 
two brothers, marked the end of Prankish unity. By this 
treaty most of the present France was assigned to Charles the 
Bald ; the country east of the Rhine went to Ludwig the German ; 
whilst to the Emperor Lothaire' s share fell a strip running from 
the Mediterranean to the North Sea, including Italy, Provence, 
Burgundy and Frisia. 

Wars soon broke out between the brothers and were continued 
by their descendants ; Scandinavian raiders from the north 
descended on the French coasts and penetrated far inland ; and 
in the midst of this turmoil the nobles, relieved from the guidance 
of a strong central autocracy, grew ever more and more indepen- 
dent and sought to increase their power by annexing each other's 
provinces. Less than seventy years after the death of Charle- 
magne the Carolingian monarchy was beginning to show signs 
of decay. The " Rois Faineants " and others who succeeded 
to Charles the Bald were with few exceptions unable to cope 
with the situation, and their only successes were spasmodic 
victories over the Danes and Northmen who continued to invade 
their territories. It may indeed be said that up to the 
beginning of the eleventh century the only solid historical 
features which emerged from the confused welter of French 
politics were the increasing power of the Church, the growth 
of feudalism, and the settlement in Normandy of the Northmen 
under Rollo (c. 920). 



Shewing the confines of the various states that were included 


nans of Empire at 

cc ess Jon of Charlemagne 

'"ZlJmits of Empire at 
death of Charlemagne 






IN 987 Louis V, the last of the Carolingians, was accidentally 
killed, and Hugh Capet, the most powerful of his feudal barons, 
was elected King. There were already large numbers of semi- 
independent hereditary rulers in France at this epoch. Such 
were the powerful Dukes of Burgundy, Normandy, Aquitaine, 
Gascony, the Counts of Brittany, Flanders, Anjou, Blois and 
Toulouse, and innumerable lesser Counts who, with the Arch- 
bishops and Bishops, had secured privileges from weak 
Carolingians. Hugh Capet's election, due in great measure to 
ecclesiastical influence, simply implied the triumph of a leading 
feudal house which possessed the admirably situated Duchy of 
France in which stood Paris and Orleans. From Hugh Capet's 
accession in 987 to that of Louis VI in 1108 the new monarchy 
had a difficult task, surrounded as it was by " a luxuriant feudal 
forest." After a reign of nine years Hugh Capet died, France 
still being divided into a number of small feudal states. Never- 
theless he had successfully resisted the hope of the Papacy 
that the dynasty of the Ottos of Germany should exercise a 
kind of supremacy over France. Thus he aided in establishing 
the separation of the French kingdom from Germany, from which 
it was becoming rapidly distinct, both in language and customs. 
Hugh's successors, Robert II and Henri I, wisely recognised 
the value of keeping on good terms with Normandy, and until 
the middle of the eleventh century there was not only peace 
but friendship between them. Troubles however arose, and 
the split in their friendly relations in 1054, when fighting broke 
out, was the origin of that conflict between France and England 
which, with intervals of peace, continued till the capture of 
Calais by the Duke of Guise in the reign of Queen Mary. Twelve 
years later the conquest of England by William of Normandy 
added fuel to the trouble ; and this was not lessened by the 
revolt of his son Robert, supported by the French King Philip I, 
against him. Further hostilities took place, chiefly in the Vexin 
a district round Beauvais which had foolishly been ceded to 


the Normans as a gage d'amitiS and the seeds were sown of 
the terrible wars which for over a hundred years were to lay 
desolate the fair lands of France. 

Louis VI's accession in 1108 marks an important epoch in 
the history of France. In 1099 the Crusaders had taken 
Jerusalem, and till the close of the following century the 
Crusades occupied the chief attention of a large proportion of 
the chief French nobles and knights. Consequently the Royal 
power was enabled to strengthen itself, while the inhabitants 
of towns began to resist the exactions of their (mostly absentee) 
overlords. The Crusades dealt a blow at Feudalism from which 
it never recovered, for during their continuance a social and 
industrial revolution was gradually carried out. The reign of 
Louis VI not only witnessed the opening of this movement 
towards local self-government by the towns and their attainment 
of social liberty, but it also saw the beginning of what has been 
called the Twelfth Century Renaissance, which was also made 
evident by the development of architecture and church-building. 
But though his wars with Henry I of England (1112-1120) were 
indeed inglorious, we may yet say that by the close of his reign 
in 1137 Louis had strengthened the Capet ian monarchy, had 
encouraged the development of a national life, and had taught 
his subjects to look to the King for protection. Many of the 
abuses of feudalism perished during his reign, and the process of 
emancipating the agricultural and industrial classes had definitely 
begun. From this time too the communal movement steadily 
grew in spite of the resistance of the nobles. Among the builders 
of modern France Louis VI holds a leading place. 

The long reign of his successor Louis VII (1137-1180) was 
chiefly marked by disputes, and eventually alliance, with the 
Church ; by the presence of the King at the Second Crusade 
(1147-50) ; and by the folly of the monarch in divorcing his 
wife Eleanor of Aquitaine : for within two months she married 
Henry Plant agenet (later Henry II), taking with her the Duchy 
of Aquitaine and Poitou and thus giving our ambitious sovereign 
a powerful foothold on the continent. This event rendered 
the position of France most critical in view of Henry's combina- 
tion with the Emperor of Germany. The genius however of 
Louis' son Philippe Auguste (1180-1223) eventually counter- 
acted this error. Embarking with Richard I on the Third 
Crusade (1191), Philip returned hastily in the following year 
with the intention of seizing the English King's lands in 
France. A fierce and intermittent war broke out between 
them with varying results ; and on the death of Richard, John 


carried on the conflict but with small success. He had indeed 
at one moment lost all the English possessions in France except 
Aquitaine ; but he recovered himself, and with the assistance 
of the Emperor Otto IV, Flanders and Lorraine, gained the 
upper hand in 1214. But not for long. A great battle ensued 
at Bouvines (near Lille) in which the English and their allies 
were decisively beaten, and the long struggle between Philip 
and the House of Anjou was over. The battle has been 
described as " a determining influence on the history of three 
nations. In France it set its seal upon the predominance of the 
Capets and ushered in a period of autocratic centralisation. 
In Germany it ensured . . . the return of the Hohenstauffen 
to the Imperial throne. In England it ... was the prelude 
to half a century of civil wars and constitutional debates." l 

After the signing by John of the Magna Carta (1215) the 
barons, who saw that he had no intention of carrying out its 
terms, invited Philip's son Louis to come over and accept the 
English crown. Louis at once agreed and brought over an 
expedition ; but owing to John's death and to the conciliatory 
policy expressed by his successor Henry III the barons fell 
away from Louis, and his forces were defeated at Lincoln and 
on the sea ; and, unsupported by his father, he was obliged to 
return to France. 

Philip died in 1223. Internally his reign had been of great 
importance. He increased the power of the Crown at the 
expense of the feudatories, strengthened the communes, con- 
tributed greatly to the growth of the towns, and by his liberal 
measures gave considerable impetus to trade and industry. 
Both as an administrator and legislator Philippe Auguste will 
always be regarded as one of the most important kings of the 
House of Capet. 

The consolidation of the monarchy proceeded apace during 
the next four reigns. Louis VIII in his short term of three 
years strengthened his position in the south of France ; (Saint) 
Louis IX extended the Royal power over Normandy and, 
broadly, over the centre of the country, and kept the lords of 
Burgundy, Flanders, Brittany and elsewhere under strict 
observation ; he also crushed several incipient attempts at 
rebellion, and defeated (1242) Henry III in the south, confining 
him to his possessions of Guyenne and Gascony. The Treaty 
of Paris (1258) however restored several of the south-western 
provinces to England on condition of the latter' s renunciation 
of her efforts in Auvergne, Brittany and the north. But Louis 

1 Davis, England under the Norman* and Angevin*, p. 379 ; London, Methun. 


had allowed himself to become entangled in the Crusades, and 
after a futile expedition to Egypt in 1248 he set out again on 
a Quixotic errand in 1270, which ended in his death at Carthage 
in the same year. 

Under the two Philips who succeeded him the country 
prospered. Philip the Bold quarrelled with Peter of Aragon 
over the question of the two Sicilies and annexed Navarre and 
Brie ; whilst Philip (IV) the Fair pursued the policy of weaken- 
ing the English hold in the south ; he also allied himself with 
the Scots, and laid the foundations of a more or less independent 
Gallican Church. Aided by excellent ministers, he did yet 
more ; and to his credit stand the institution of the Parlement 
of Paris as a High Court of Appeal, and the calling together of 
a States-General, including representatives from 270 towns, to 
supply a formal expression of public opinion when consulted 
by the King ; and, after many conflicts with the Popes, the 
supremacy in France of the Crown over the Church. 

The next three kings Louis X, Philip V and Charles IV (all 
sons of Philip IV) reigned for only fourteen years altogether, 
and achieved nothing of importance ; and the line of the Capets 
came to an end in the person of the last-named. There was no 
direct heir to Charles, and the crown was accordingly handed 
to his first cousin, Philip of Valois. 




THE outbreak of the Hundred Years' War in 1337 was probably 
inevitable. There were many causes of friction between France 
and England, and it needed but a small spark to set the powder 
off. First of all the English possessions in Guyenne and the 
south-west could hardly be viewed with equanimity by the 
French ; secondly, the cause of the Scots, and especially of 
David Bruce, who was anathema to the English King, had been 
warmly espoused by Philip VI ; on the other hand, Edward III 
had received at his court Count Robert of Artois, who had been 
accused of murdering his wife, Philip's sister ; and serious 
trouble was brewing in Flanders always a bone of contention 
between the two countries. 


Matters came to a head when Louis de Nevers, Count of that 
Province, with the approval of Philip, arrested all the English 
merchants there and forbade any commercial relations with 
England. Edward retaliated by stopping all export of English 
wool which was absolutely essential to the existence of the 
Flemings : and the fat was in the fire. 

The French started operations by attacking Guyenne and 
ravaging the south coast of England. In reply Edward assumed 
the title of King of France and invaded Flanders, but with 
poor success. A more hopeful ground for interference lay in 
taking part in the quarrel over the Duchy of Brittany, and 
intermittent campaigns went on till 1347, when the English 
invaded Normandy in strength, defeated the French forces at 
Crecy, near Abbeville (August 26, 1346), and took Calais. 

Philip died in 1350 ; but the war went on in spite of Papal 
efforts to bring about peace, until the French King John, after 
suffering a series of misfortunes, was defeated and captured 
by the Black Prince at Poitiers (September 19, 1356). The 
government was carried on with great difficulty by the young 
Dauphin Charles in the face of internal outbreaks such as the 
Jacquerie and treasonable actions such as those of Etienne 
Marcel but John was not released (at a cost of three million 
gold crowns) until, after renewed fighting, the Treaty of Calais 
was signed four years later. By this treaty (October 28, 1360) 
Calais and Aquitaine remained in English hands, the question 
of Brittany being left for subsequent settlement. 

The country was in a terrible state after the war, and it took 
all the ability of Charles V, who had succeeded his father in 
1364, to restore order : for guerrilla warfare was still going on 
all over the country, " free companies " were roving through the 
land, and a campaign had become necessary in Spain. The 
latter resulted in a most useful alliance with Spain, and when 
war with England again broke out in 1369 the French quickly 
secured the upper hand. A truce from 1375-77 was of little 
avail for the English, and when another truce for six years 
was agreed on in 1381, a year or so after the death of Charles, 
England's position in France had been broken : for of all her 
French possessions she only retained Bayonne, Bordeaux, Brest 
and Calais. Meanwhile the power of Charles the Bad of Navarre 
had also been broken, both in the south and in Normandy, and 
the weary country began eagerly to look forward to a period of 
comparative peace. The first phase of the Hundred Years' 
War was over. 

Charles VI was only twelve years old when he succeeded his 


father ; the government was consequently carried on by a 
Regency Council, and in this his uncle, the Duke Philip of 
Burgundy, attained a speedy pre-eminence. Revolutionary 
movements soon broke out in Paris and in Flanders, but were 
quickly suppressed by Burgundy's iron hand ; and the latter 
rose more and more to power as, by marriage and other means, 
he succeeded in increasing his territories. Charles took over 
the government in 1388, and showed much sympathy in dealing 
with his subjects. But four years later he became partially 
insane, and Burgundy again took charge. A truce of twenty- 
eight years with England was signed in 1396; but on Richard II's 
death in 1399 it came to an end, and hostilities again broke out, 
the French King's brother Orleans (his daughter being widow 
of Richard) being fiercely opposed to Henry IV. French 
privateers ravaged the English coast, and a French expedition, 
with Glyndwr of Wales as its ally, landed in Wales and reached 
Worcester before it was defeated. Meanwhile Orleans had not 
succeeded in turning the English out of Guyenne : and in 1407 
he was murdered by the emissaries of Jean sans Peur, who had 
succeeded his father Philip as Duke of Burgundy. 

Civil war between the Orleanists and the Burgundians was 
the natural result, Burgundy being supported by the English ; 
and the turmoil lasted till 1415, when the Armagnacs (allies of 
the new Duke of Orleans) remained in possession of the King and 
of Paris. 

In this year Henry V of England, having in vain demanded 
the restoration of his " Kingdom of France," landed an army 
of 60,000 in France and took Harfleur. A month afterwards 
(October 25, 1415) he heavily defeated the French at Agincourt 
and took Orleans prisoner, following this up by conquering and 
annexing Normandy (January 1419). Meanwhile Burgundy 
and the Dauphin (eldest son of Charles) had been at war ; they 
arranged a treaty, and met on the bridge of Montereau-sur-Yonne 
(July 1419) ; but Jean sans Peur was here foully murdered by 
the Dauphin's men an act which resulted in throwing Burgundy 
into the arms of the English for the next fifteen years. In May 
1420 the Treaty of Troyes, extracted from the French at the 
point of the sword, made our Henry V Regent of France and 
ensured that he should succeed Charles VI as King. But the 
West and South of France rose in revolt at this humiliating 
bargain, and in 1421 beat an English force under Clarence. 
Henry V returned, but he died at Vincennes in 1422 ; and a 
few weeks later Charles VI was also dead. 

As Henry VI of England was only a few months old, the Duke 


IN 1429 

EngUstv Possessions shaded* thus 




of Bedford now became Regent in France, whilst the Dauphin 
took the title of Charles VII King of France, and for several 
years carried on a disastrous war against the English. It was 
at this juncture that Joan of Arc appeared as the saviour of 
her country ; and by raising the siege of Orleans in 1429 she 
turned the tables against the foe. Charles VII was crowned 
King at Reims, but the unfortunate girl was captured at 
Compiegne (being left outside the gates when pursued by the 
enemy on her return from an unsuccessful foray), and, Charles 
lifting no finger to help her, she was eventually burnt as a 
witch by the English at Rouen in 1431. From now onwards 
the cause of England began to decline ; and Burgundy's recon- 
ciliation with the French Crown in 1435 dealt a further heavy 
blow at her position in the country. France was becoming 
reunited, and in spite of internal plots and risings she laboured 
hard at placing her military forces on a secure footing. The 
nucleus of a standing army was actually formed ; many drastic 
military reforms were carried out ; and especially were these 
pressed during the period of the five years' truce arranged with 
England by the Treaty of Tours in 1444. 

That these reforms were of the utmost value to France was 
speedily shown in the fighting which broke out again in 1449. 
Normandy, Guyenne, Bayonne and Bordeaux successively fell 
into the hands of the French ; and before the close of the year 
1453 Charles VII was master and ruler of all France save Calais. 
The Hundred Years' War had come to an end. 

The remaining years of Charles' life were occupied in checking 
the power of Burgundy and to devoting himself to Italian 
politics in which he had but little success. On his death in 
1461 the French monarchy had been firmly established, and no 
constitutional government was possible for many years to come. 

His son Louis XI speedily incurred the wrath of the feudal 
princes at the abolition of whose prerogatives he was aiming ; 
and in spite of his good work in promoting trade and agriculture 
a " League of the Public Good " was formed against him (1465) 
by the Dukes of Berri and Bourbon, strongly supported by 
Charolais, son of Philip of Burgundy. There ensued hostilities, 
in which neither side could claim the victory ; and a treaty was 
signed at Conflans by the terms of which it was obvious that 
the recalcitrant princes aimed rather at their individual inde- 
pendence than at national unity. Louis was supported in his 
actions against the feudatories by the Parlement and the States- 
General ; but for several years his position was critical, all the 
more so as his chief enemy Charolais, now become Charles 


the Bold was allied with the English. By the most skilful 
combinations and utter disregard of the sanctity of his word 
he managed to evade disaster ; the Burgundian invasion of 
France (1472) ended in failure ; and the country was saved. 
Charles' efforts were now directed to forming a great Middle 
Kingdom for himself, but, largely owing to Louis' intrigues, 
they ended in failure. Charles himself was killed in 1477, and 
before his own death in 1483 Louis had seized and definitely 
united the Duchy of Burgundy to the French monarchy, leaving 
the latter again most firmly established for his successors. 

The accession of his son Charles VIII, who was under the 
guardianship of Anne of Beaujeu, was followed by an attempt 
of the feudal party, headed by Louis of Orleans, to control the 
Government. Supported however by the States-General, the 
Royal army defeated a Breton army, and Orleans was cast into 
prison. The death of Fran?ois of Brittany in 1488 left Anne 
triumphant and resolved to bring about a marriage between 
the young Duchess of Brittany and Charles VIII. In December 
1491 the marriage took place, and the last great independent 
French fief was united to the Crown. For France the Middle 
Ages had now closed. 




IN 1453 the Hundred Years' War had closed with the victory of 
the French over Talbot at Chatillon. No longer did the 
continental connection of England hinder her destiny as a 
sea-going power, and similarly, no sooner was France quit of 
her long struggle with England and reorganised under Louis XI 
than she was able to enter upon the path of overseas empire, 
and upon an attempt to establish her supremacy in Italy. These 
changes in French policy were not evident till the reign of 
Charles VIII, though the way was cleared as it were for his 


enterprises by the firmly consistent policy of Louis XI, whose 
policy contributed so profoundly to the union of France. 

The reign of Charles VIII, whose invasion of Italy in 1494 
marked the beginning of the modern age, illustrates the immense 
vitality of the Gallic race. During his reign and that of his 
successors, the civilisation which had its roots in Roman Gaul 
entirely recovered from the horror of the Hundred Years' War 
and spread its influence over all Europe. 

The conquest by the Turks of Constantinople, the crossing of 
the Atlantic by Columbus in 1492, Vasco da Gama's voyage to 
India in 1497-8 all indicated a complete revolution in the 
political ideas of the time. Already the restoration of Greek 
in Italy had taken place before the fall of the Eastern Empire, 
and it was in 1494, when Charles VIII made his famous expedi- 
tion to Italy, that the Italian Renaissance was already at its 
height. French interest in Italy was no new thing. Under 
Charles VII Genoa had received a French governor, while 
Louis XI was accepted as " the arbiter of Italian fortunes " ; 
but Italy during his reign was regarded as " rich, disunited 
and helpless." 

Shortly after his accession Charles VIII was invited by Venice 
to conquer Milan and Naples, its request indicating that Charles 
would find allies in Italy should he invade that country. Old- 
standing claims upon Milan and Naples by the French King and 
the House of Orleans were adduced by Venice to rouse the interest 
of Charles VIII, who then possessed a powerful standing force 
of cavalry. So after marrying Anne of Brittany and making 
treaties with England (Etaples, November 1492), vith Spain 
(Barcelona, January 1493) and with the Emperor Maximilian 
(Senlis, May 1493), Charles found himself with a free hand to 
invade Italy in 1494. 

French intervention in Italy, as has been stated, had been 
evident in the reign of Charles VII, while Louis XI had shown 
considerable interest in the affairs of this country. Lorenzo 
de' Medici had died in 1492, and with his death the peace of 
Italy was threatened by the rivalries of the States which com- 
posed that country. In 1491 Ludovico il Moro, the ruler of 
Milan, realising his danger from the possibility of the Duke of 
Orleans asserting his claim to Milanese territory, sent an embassy 
to France and secured the renewal of the alliance with that 
country which his father had made. The chief pretext for an 
invasion of Italy thus left to Charles was the French claim on 

In May 14^4 the French expedition started, but it was not 

F 3 


till November 17 that Charles reached Florence, entering Rome 
on December 31. In the Neapolitan country the French met 
with opposition ; this however was easily overcome, and on 
February 22, 1495 Charles occupied Naples. Meanwhile 
opposition was gradually being formed. Venice swung round 
and suggested a league which soon included the Pope, Milan, 
Maximilian and Ferdinand and Isabella. Florence alone of 
the chief States did not join it. On May 21 Charles departed 
from Naples, leaving a mixed force behind him. At Fornovo 
he met the army of the League, and a battle ensued, in which 
Charles was victorious. The result was that he, without meeting 
with further opposition, was able to return to France in the 
middle of October. On April 7, 1498, while meditating another 
invasion, he died, and was succeeded by his cousin Louis of 
Orleans, under the title of Louis XII. 

Like his predecessor, Louis made several treaties before he 
invaded Italy one with Spain and another with Philip, son of 
Maximilian and ruler of the Low Countries. He also renewed 
the Treaty with England, and arranged for Swiss assistance. 
In 1499 he crossed into Italy and occupied Milan, which however 
was regained by Ludovico Sforza in February 1500, only to be 
retaken by the French in April. Though Louis and Ferdinand 
of Spain conquered Naples in 1501 they soon quarrelled, with 
the result that in 1505 Louis gave up his rights in Naples to his 
niece Germaine de Foix, who, after the death of Isabella, 
married the Spanish King. In 1508 with Maximilian they formed 
the League of Cambrai against Venice and defeated her in the 
battle of Agnadello on May 14, 1509. After helping to commit 
this " great political crime," Louis was himself attacked by the 
Holy League in 1511, the object of which was to drive the French 
out of Italy. After unsuccessful campaigns in Italy, where 
Louis was beaten by the Swiss at Novara, and in France, where 
Henry VIII, who had meanwhile invaded the country, won 
the " battle of the Spurs " at Terouanne (or Guinegate) in 
August 1513, peace was made with England ; and Louis, who 
had lost his wife, Anne of Brittany, in January 1514, married 
Mary, Henry of England's sister, in the following October. 
He died in January 1515, leaving France threatened by the 
hostility of many of the European Powers. 

The invasions of Italy by Charles VIII and Louis XII thus 
marked the beginning of modern times and had the most 
important and far-reaching effects upon the political situation 
in Europe, and upon literature and art. The intercourse 
between nations was one result of these invasions of Italy by 


Charles and his successors; and though the political union of 
Italy was rendered impossible, " captive Italy made her 
domination felt not only in France but also in Germany and 

Until the expedition of Charles VIII the Renaissance can 
hardly be said to have affected France. But for a century after 
that expedition, certainly till the death of Henry III, the inter- 
course between France and Italy was continuous. Lascaris the 
Byzantine lectured on Greek in Charles VIII's and Louis XII's 
reigns, and the Italian Aleandro, who came to Paris in 1508 and 
remained there till 1516, was appointed Rector of the University 
and lectured on Hebrew, Greek and Latin. Greek books were 
already published in Paris, and Budoeus, the famous French 
scholar and the best Greek scholar in Europe, published his 
Commentary in Paris in 1529. Many other names could be 
adduced to illustrate the growth of French Humanism and the 
effect upon it of the contact of French and Italian minds. 

This development of Humanism in France coincided with a 
period of war which continued with short intervals of peace 
till the Treaty of Cateau-Cambresis was signed in 1559 between 
Henry II and Philip of Spain. Charles VIII and Louis XII 
had failed in their Italian policy ; it was left to Francis I, 1 who 
had inherited a compact kingdom, to endeavour to establish 
the French hold upon Italy. The Peace of Noyon with Charles 
of Spain (later Charles V) in 1516 shelved the questions raised by 
the victory of Francis I over the Swiss at Marignano in 1515, 
but the question of a partition of Italy between Habsburg and 
Valois was not there definitely settled. 

The election of Charles V to the imperial dignity in 1519 
rendered the outbreak of war with France inevitable ; but the 
meeting of Francis and Henry VIII at the Field of Cloth of 
Gold in June 1520 did not secure for France the English alliance 
that had been desired. To safeguard his interests Charles 
allied himself with Pope Leo X, and thereafter, in 1522, with 
Henry VIII. On the outbreak of war in 1521 Charles occupied 
Milan, while in 1522 the coasts of Brittany and Normandy were 
raided by English and Spanish fleets. The total defeat of the 
French army at Pavia by the forces of the Empire in February 
1525 and the capture and imprisonment of Francis were followed 
by the Treaty of Madrid in January 1526, Francis ceding the 
Duchy of Burgundy to Charles, and renouncing his rights over 
Genoa, Asti, Naples, and Milan. As Charles refused to dis- 

1 Louis XII's son-in-law, son of the Count of Angoulgmo and great-grandson 
of the Louis Duke of Orleans who died in 1407. 


member France, Henry VIII forsook him, but he did not join the 
League of Cognac against the Emperor in May 1526, though in 
April of the following year an offensive treaty was concluded 
between the English and French Kings. French successes in 
Italy were nullified by the defection of the famous Admiral 
Andrea Doria, and in 1529 the Peace of Cambrai closed the first 
stage in the settlement of the affairs of Western Europe. 

Before the next war broke out between France and Charles V 
in 1536 Europe had to recognise the danger to its eastern frontier 
from Suleiman, the Turkish Sultan. Already Francis had 
entered into relations with him, and in February 1536 he 
concluded a treaty. This alliance, together with Suleiman's 
invasions of Eastern Europe, was of the utmost significance in 
the history of the Reformation and in the future wars between 
Charles and Francis. In March 1536 war between the two 
monarchs opened with the invasion of Provence by French 
troops, followed by that of Artois and the occupation of Savoy 
and Piedmont. But it ended in November the following year, 
and in June 1538 the truce of Nice was arranged for ten years, 
the French King and the Emperor meeting at Aigues-Mortes in 

For Charles peace was especially necessary in order to be able 
to ward off the Turkish danger and to deal with the religious 
situation in Germany. Moreover both Powers had now reached 
what has been called " a position of comparatively stable 
equilibrium." The truce marks one more stage to the per- 
manent settlement established later by the Treaty of Cateau- 

The truce did not however continue for many years, though 
it enabled Charles V to attack Barbarossa, the Turkish corsair, 
with the object of then turning his power against Constantinople. 
Failure however attended his efforts, and in 1542, in alliance 
with the Sultan, Francis entered upon campaigns in the 
Netherlands and Roussillon. 1 Allied with Henry VIII, Charles 
fully held his own in 1543, while Henry in July in the following 
year besieged Boulogne. But Charles, anxious to deal with his 
three remaining difficulties Turkish, Lutheran and Papal- 
signed the Peace of Crepy on September 13, 1544. Among the 
terms of the Peace the most important were those which provided 
for the co-operation of Charles and Francis against the Turks 
and against the Protestants. Hitherto the opposition of France 
and the Ottomans and the lack of Papal support had checked 
the Emperor's desire for ecclesiastical reform and for the coercion 

1 Just north of the eastern end of the Pyrenees. 


of the Protestants in Germany. Francis at once did his utmost 
to exterminate the Vaudois Protestants, and in 1546 continued 
his persecutions in France, Stephen Dolet, one of the main leaders 
of the " heretics," being burnt alive. Francis himself died in 
March of the following year. 

By a Treaty made by his son Henry II with Edward VI in 
March 1550 Boulogne was restored to France, and the French 
King was enabled to enter upon war with the Emperor Charles 
in March 1552. This war marks a new development in French 
policy, for Henry II, allied with the Protestant Princes of 
Germany and with the Turks, aimed at securing new accessions 
of territory on the eastern border of France. Henry at once 
invaded Lorraine and occupied the chief places in the bishoprics 
of Metz, Toul and Verdun. The war continued in an indecisive 
fashion till February 1556, when the Truce of Vaucelles gave the 
combatants a short respite. The same year saw the close of 
Charles V's career, and the outbreak of war between Henry II 
and Philip II of Spain, the latter being in alliance with England. 
The defeat of the French in the battle of St. Quentin on August 
10, 1557, laid the way open to Paris. Guise, now the most 
influential man in France, took advantage of Philip's refusal to 
advance on Paris, reorganised his own army, and on January 1, 
1558, besieged Calais, which he took from the English in eight 
days : thus did we lose our last possession on French territory. 
In the following April Mary of Scotland (daughter of King 
James V of Scotland and Mary of Guise) married the Dauphin. 

The Treaty of Cateau-Cambresis between France, Spain and 
England, signed on April 2, 1559, marks an epoch in European 
history, closing a struggle which had continued for some sixty 
years. Italy was left as Charles V had wished, and Savoy 
became a buffer State between France and Italy. The Peace 
itself was a triumph for the party of the Constable Montmorency, 
who had always been opposed to a French alliance with the 
Sultan of Turkey or with the German Protestant princes ; but 
in this policy he was opposed by the House of Guise, whose 
aims have been described as being ever " aggressive, enter- 
prising, provocative." The influence of Francis Duke of Guise 
had procured the rupture of the Truce of Vaucelles ; while to 
that of Montmorency was mainly due the Peace of Cateau- 

A new era was now about to dawn. The accession of 
Elizabeth of England in 1558 and of Francis II (son of Henry l ) 

1 Henry II was accidentally killed at a tournament, by a lance-splinter in the 


in 1559, the death of Charles V in 1558, the accession of Pius IV 
in 1559, the appointment of Margaret, sister of Philip II, as 
Regent of the Netherlands, the separation of Spain and Germany 
(Charles' successor as Emperor being his brother Ferdinand I) 
all these events mark the close of an old epoch and the opening 
of a new one. Moreover, the new epoch is marked by the 
definite opening of the Counter-Reformation movement (in- 
augurated at the Council of Trent, the sittings of which were 
closed in December 1563), by the revolt of the Netherlands, 
which opened with the capture of Brill in 1572 by the " Beggars," 
and especially by the outbreak of the wars of religion in 


THE Reformation Movement in France, which began in the 
reign of Francis I, developed rapidly during his reign and that 
of Henry II, mainly owing to the occupation of the Government 
in foreign wars, and this in spite of the persecution to which its 
supporters were subjected. That movement was mainly based 
on the Genevan system and, as time went on, its members 
advocated social and political changes. The Peace of Cateau- 
Cambr^sis closed the national wars which had begun with Charles 
VIII' s expedition to Italy, and marked the beginning of the 
religious wars which only closed with the Peace of Westphalia. 
The death of Henry II shortly after the Peace of Cateau- 
Cambrsis left the Crown in the hands of his weak son Francis II, 
who was entirely under the influence of his wife Mary Stuart. 

At the moment France was in a condition somewhat resem- 
bling that of England at the close of the war with France in 
1453. As long as foreign wars continued, the nobles were fully 
occupied in support of the Crown. Peace however implied 
the growth of turbulence among the nobles at a time when the 
monarchy was weak ; and it did not become strong till the 
accession of Henri IV. 1 Moreover the religious factor made 
the position of the Crown still more difficult. 

During the religious wars both the Catholics and Huguenots 
placed their respective religions above nationality. We find 

1 This monarch is so well known as " Henri Quatre " that the French spelling 
of his name has been retained. ED. 


the Huguenots offering Calais to Queen Elizabeth and bringing 
English forces to Havre, and the Guises intriguing with Spain 
and willing to dismember France. Only a series of strong 
monarchs could have held the nation together, but during the 
years from 1560 to 1590 personal government completely broke 
down under the weak rule of Francis II, Charles IX and 
Henry III. 

At this time there were several parties, each struggling for 
the management of the kingdom. First was that of Catherine 
de' Medici, widow of Henry II ; then came that of the Bourbon 
princes represented by Antoine King of Navarre and Louis 
Prince of Conde, who were supported by the Protestant Admiral 
Coligny ; and thirdly that of Francis Duke of Guise, the captor 
of Calais, and his brother Charles of Lorraine, Cardinal Arch- 
bishop of Reims. There were also to be considered the Constable 
of Montmorency and his friends, who opposed Catherine no 
less than the Bourbons. During the reign of Francis II the 
Guises were in the ascendant. Owing to the conspiracy of 
Amboise in March 1560, the object of which was to seize the 
Guises, Conde was condemned to death, and he only owed 
his life to the death of Francis II (December 5, 1560) and the 
accession of his brother Charles IX, when Catherine became 
Regent and the Guises ceased to carry on the government. 

Mary (Queen of Scots), the widow of Francis II, arrived in 
Edinburgh in August 1561, only to find that all French troops 
had been withdrawn from Scotland and that the Calvinistic 
Confession of Faith had been adopted. Before she left France 
the Guise domination had ended and the new monarch Charles 
IX, being only ten years old, was during his regency immediately 
under the influence of Catherine de' Medici. Owing to the 
condition of religious parties in France, disturbances in various 
towns took place, and finally, on January 17, 1562, the Huguenots 
did indeed obtain legal recognition, but they were not allowed 
to assemble within any city. The Huguenots reluctantly 
accepted the Edict, but the Catholics were not satisfied, and 
the attack by Guise on some Protestants at Vassy on March 1 
inaugurated the religious wars. The immediate result of that 
massacre was that Guise, Montmorency and the Marshal St. 
Andre (the Triumvirate) became all-powerful, while Conde 
headed the Huguenots. During the first war King Antoine 
of Navarre, Marshal St. Andre, and Guise l perished, and the 
Constable of Montmorency and Conde" arranged the Pacification 
of Amboise, which closed the war (1563). The Huguenots were 

1 Guise was assassinated by a Huguenot in 1563. 


now allowed liberty of conscience, and they aided in the expulsion 
of the English from Havre in July 1563. Catherine, now supreme, 
declared Charles IX of age, and peace reigned till 1567. During 
those years a treaty, that of Troyes, was made with England in 
1564, and in the following year the famous meeting between 
Catherine and the Duke of Alva took place at Bayonne. Mean- 
while countless intrigues were being carried on by the leaders 
of both religious parties in France, and in 1567 the second war 
broke out. In the battle of St. Denis on November 10 Mont\ 
morency, who was opposing Cond6, was killed. The latter, 
after besieging Chartres, concluded in March 1568 the Peace of 
Longjumeau, the terms of which were little more than a repeti- 
tion of those of the Convention of Amboise. 

Catherine's attempt to seize Conde* and Coligny led to the 
outbreak in November of the third war. On March 13, 1569, 
the Huguenots were defeated in the battle of Jarnac, and 
shortly afterwards Conde* was assassinated, being succeeded in 
the leadership of the Huguenots by Coligny, though the Bourbon 
Prince of B6arn (afterwards King of Navarre and Henri IV) and 
the young Prince of Conde* were nominally the heads of the 
party. Coligny failed to take Poitiers, and on October 8 was 
defeated in the battle of Montcontour by the Duke of Anjou 
and Tavannes. Early in 1570 Coligny won a victory at Arnay- 
le-Duc, and in August the Peace of St. Germain ended the war. 
The Huguenots obtained favourable terms, four towns La 
Rochelle, La Charite, Montauban and Coignac being left in 
their hands for two years. This treaty closes the first period 
of the religious wars. 

The years 1571-2, which divide the first and second periods 
of the religious wars, are full of interest ; Charles IX married 
(1570) Elizabeth of Austria, daughter of the Emperor Maximilian 
II, an Anglo-French alliance was concluded, and French schemes 
with regard to the Netherlands eventuated in the seizure of 
Valenciennes and Mons. On August 13, 1572, Henri Bourbon 
of Navarre married Marguerite of Valois, sister of Charles IX, 
and the Massacre of St. Bartholomew in which thousands of 
Huguenots, including Admiral Coligny, were exterminated 
took place during the week following. The Queen-Mother, 
Catherine de' Medici, owing to her determination to attack the 
Huguenots and get rid of Coligny, was certainly answerable, 
with Henry of Anjou (afterwards Henry III), for the massacre, 
which was also advocated by the municipal authorities in Paris. 
While the historian Martin is an advocate of the view that the 
massacre was unpremeditated, Motley points out that at Rome 


the news of the massacre created a joy beyond description, and 
that the Pope went to the Church of St. Mark to render thanks 
for the grace thus singularly vouchsafed to the Holy See and to 
all Christendom. Sismondi has no hesitation in averring that 
Philip II of Spain, as well as the Pope, approved of the massacre. 

The wars which immediately followed the Massacre of St. 
Bartholomew were the life-and-death struggle of the reformed 
religion. In those struggles the secular was if possible more 
prominent than the ecclesiastical element, for it was advisable 
for the Huguenots to conciliate those Catholic malcontents who 
had broken away from the Crown. Moreover, it was necessary 
to put forward a theory of government in opposition to that of 
absolutism which, formulated by Macchiavelli, had been applied 
by the Crown through the influence of Catherine de' Medici. 

Within seven years of the massacre many Huguenot works, 
several being direct attacks on Macchiavelli, appeared, all 
justifying the right of resistance to authority when wrongfully 
used. In the meantime the Huguenots were unable to give 
the insurgents in the Low Countries any help, and they now 
aimed not at securing political control of the government but at 
religious toleration and at the establishment of a number of 
federal republics. For a time the Huguenots by their alliance 
with the Politiques, who desired toleration, seem to have 
regained much of this power in the south-west of France. But 
their efforts were hampered some seven years after the massacre 
by the outbreak of a social conflict which, begun in Dauphine, 
seemed not unlikely to spread over France. " There is,'* writes 
a Venetian in 1584, " extremely bad feeling between the nobles 
and people, who are much oppressed by the large quantities of 
poor gentry who play the tyrant and expect to live, dress and 
take their pleasure at the people's expense." The ultimate 
victory of Henri of Navarre over the League and Spain, with 
whom the Peace of Vervins in May 1598 was concluded, checked 
for a time the growth of the Federalist spirit, which did not 
again show itself in any marked degree till the days of Richelieu. 
By the Edict of Nantes (April 1598) liberty of conscience was 
granted to the Huguenots, and guarantees were given them for 
their safety. The Edict was practically a " Treaty between 
two powers comparatively equal." 

After the massacre of St. Bartholomew the fourth war, of 
which the massacre was the first act, broke out and closed with 
the Treaty of La Rochelle in June 1573, the Huguenots being 
promised liberty of conscience and the right to hold services in 
La Rochelle, Montauban and Nimes. 


During the late war the Politiques or Moderate Catholics had 
begun to draw closer to the Huguenots, and Francis of Alenyon, 
the King's youngest brother, was regarded as their chief. In 
July 1573 Henry of Anjou, brother of the King, was elected 
King of Poland, and on May 30, 1574 Charles IX died, it being 
suspected that he was poisoned to make way for Henry of 
Anjou, who became King as Henry III and arrived in France 
in the following September. Catherine's family now consisted 
of Henry III, Fra^ois Duke of Alenon (and now of Anjou), 
and Margaret (La Reine Margot) Queen of Navarre. Soon 
after Henry's return the fifth war broke out ; this ended on 
May 6, 1576, when the Peace of Monsieur (so-called after 
d'Alencon) was signed, eight cities being allotted to the 
Huguenots. Peace being made, d'Alencon, " a prince of no 
principle, bad temper and small capacity," turned his attention 
to Flanders. Owing to a sudden change in the policy of Queen 
Elizabeth, who now wished to establish friendly relations with 
Spain, the Flemings were forced to invoke the aid of France, 
much to the irritation of the English Queen, who, like Edward 
III, dreaded a French protectorate over Flanders. In 1578, 
Flanders being threatened with the arrival of Spanish troops 
from Italy, d'Alenon entered the Netherlands at the head of 
10,000 men. 

In March 1579 he endeavoured without success to induce 
Henry III to support his Flemish enterprise. Having failed 
in his attempt, he disbanded his troops and again, though in 
vain, endeavoured to induce Queen Elizabeth to marry him. 
On her definite refusal he set out for Antwerp in February 1582, 
only to find that a Spanish force was advancing to Flanders 
and that the Flemings had become convinced that he intended 
to annex their country. In January 1583 the French troops 
had secured for d'Alencon several towns, including Dunkirk 
and Ostend. Ghent and Bruges were too strong to be seized, 
and the men of Antwerp drove out the French troops. In June 
he retired with his army and Spain occupied the country. In 
June 1584 he died. Meanwhile Henry III had found that the 
States -General, which met at Blois in November 1576, was 
violently anti-Huguenot and anti-monarchical. From that time 
the formation of Catholic Leagues supported by the new Duke 
of Guise constituted an ever-growing menace to the monarchy. 
Guise was acting in close connection with Philip of Spain and 
united the Catholic Leagues into one single organisation. There 
is no doubt that he was aiming at the crown of France. To 
discredit the government of Henry III and to keep on good 


terms with Spain were absolutely necessary for the success of 
Guise's projects, and these had been endangered by d'Alenon's 
Flemish projects. 

The sixth war ended on September 17, 1577, with the Peace 
of Bergerac, and the seventh (the "War of the Gallants") 
with the Peace of Fleix in November 1580, both Peaces being 
due to the diversion towards the Netherlands. The Huguenots 
now held eight cities, and for some eight years peace was 
preserved. During this period the development of the Catholic 
League proceeded rapidly and was welcomed by Philip II, who 
made a treaty in January 1585 with Henry of Guise, the chief 
object of which was to prevent the accession of Henri of Navarre 
to the French throne. The same year, by the Treaty of Nemours 
(July 1), Henry III definitely broke off friendly relations with 
England and accepted the policy of the League. The years 
1587, 1588 and 1589 were noteworthy in the history of France. 
The eighth war, or the War of the Three Henrys (Henry III, 
Henri of Navarre, and Henry of Guise), was of no little interest. 
On October 15, 1587, Henri of Navarre won the battle of Courtras, 
but Paris, defended by Guise, turned against Henry III, who in 
May 1588 retired to Chartres. 

The danger to France from Philip II was fully realised by the 
French Court, for not only was Spain firmly established in the 
Netherlands, but in revenge for the aid given by d'Alencon to 
the rebels the King of Spain supported the League with all 
his power. The French Court was, we are told, paralysed with 
fear when the Spanish Armada approached its coast. The 
failure of the Armada was followed by great Royalist rejoicings. 
" God has deferred our ruin," wrote the Tuscan agent, " content- 
ing Himself with our torments of civil war." In August Henry 
met at Blois the States-General, and the League expressed a 
wish to give the crown to the Duke of Guise. The failure of 
the Armada in August 1588 encouraged Henry to act, and on 
December 23 he carried out the assassination of Guise at Blois, 
and of his brother the Cardinal on the following day. Henry 
now hoped that all serious checks on his power had been 
removed. But he had not counted on the irreconcilable 
attitude of Paris, which set up the Duke of Mayenne, the brother 
of Guise, as Lieutenant- General of France. Before Henry could 
decide what action to take, the Queen-Mother Catherine de' 
Medici died on January 5, 1589. In view of the fury of the 
Parisians, Henry's life was no longer safe. His only course was 
to ally himself with Henri of Navarre, and on April 3, 1589 a 
treaty was made ; on the 30th the two Henrys met near Tours, 


and in July they invested Paris. On August 1 however the 
last Valois King of France was stabbed by a Jacobin friar 
and died on the following day, after recognising Henri of 
Navarre (his brother-in-law) as his heir. 

From the death of Henry III in 1589 to the acceptance of 
Roman Catholicism by Henri IV in 1593 war continued with 
the League. During those years Henri defeated Mayenne at 
Arques in September 1589, and at Ivry in March 1590. He 
was still opposed by the League, which had its headquarters 
in Paris now strictly besieged by the Royalist army. Obeying 
the instructions of Philip II, Parma forced Henri to raise the 
siege and revictualled the city. A reactionary movement 
however set in, even in Paris, where the " Sixteen " were 
anticipating by their cruelties the reign of terror in 1793-4 ; and 
public opinion declared itself against Spanish domination. 
France, worn out by the civil war, was now ready to accept 
Henri as King. In July 1593 he formally adopted the Catholic 
religion, and in the following year entered Paris and made an 
alliance with England, an alliance which was shortly afterwards 
joined by Holland. The civil wars in Provence and Brittany 
closed in 1596, 1597 and 1598, and the war with Spain, formally 
declared in January 1593, continued till it was closed by the 
treaty of Vervins in May 1598, being preceded in April by the 
famous Edict of Nantes, which gave the reformed religion 
certain liberties. Catholicism remained supreme ; but toleration 
was given to the Huguenots. 

After 1598 Henri lost no time in restoring order in France 
and developing industry and commerce, which had been 
practically non-existent during the forty years of civil war. 
Henri found in Sully a minister admirably fitted to carry out 
measures necessary for the material development of France. 
It is stated by a competent authority that whereas in 1597 the 
total income of the State was 23,000,000 livres it had by 1609 
risen to 39,000,000.* During those years the national debt 
was considerably reduced, officials and governors of provinces 
were compelled to renounce their illegal exactions, and a con- 
siderable reduction in the standing army was effected. The 
export of corn was freed from all restrictions, roads and bridges 
were improved, and industries of all kinds, among which must 
be mentioned the manufacture of silk, were encouraged. Paris 
itself was immensely improved. At the same time trade was 
bettered by commercial treaties with England, Spain and Turkey, 

1 This sum must be multiplied by about eight for ita equivalent in modern 
currency. Cambridge Modern History, vol. iii, p. 693. 


and support was given to the efforts which were being made to 
colonise Canada. In one respect a reactionary step was taken. 
In order to check the venality of judicial offices and to increase 
the revenue, Henri and Sully, by the advice of a certain Paulet, 
converted the judicial offices into heritable property. The 
result was the creation of the Noblesse de la Robe, who held 
vested and heritable rights, which enabled them frequently to 
adopt an independent attitude towards the Crown. 

Till his death in 1610, while the internal resources of France, 
which owing to the late disturbances had become completely 
disorganised, were being developed, Henri was specially interested 
in the European situation. In October 1600 (having divorced 
his wife Margot of Valois in the previous year) he married 
Marie de' Medici, niece of the Grand Duke of Tuscany, and the 
same year found him at war with the Duke of Savoy, from whom 
in 1601 he took Bresse, Bugey, Gex and Valromey, thus con- 
siderably advancing the French frontier. In 1609 the Cleves- 
Juliers question seemed likely to involve Europe in a general 
war a war of Catholicism against Protestantism. Everything 
pointed to the outbreak of the " Thirty Years' War " in 1609. 
On his way to the frontier however Henri was murdered (by 
Ravaillac, May 14, 1610), and for some years France retired 
from the foremost place in Europe a position in which Henri 
had left her. Had he lived longer the Habsburgs might have 
been humbled with comparative ease, in which case France and 
not Austria would have remained the leading power in Europe 
a position which she did not occupy till the reign of Louis XIV. 

With Henri IV s death closes the first period in the history of 
French colonisation. During the sixteenth century the French 
maintained a forward place in the race of adventurous explora- 
tions beyond seas ; and at the end of that century the rivalry 
among the western maritime nations had begun hi earnest. 
Constant allusions to strange peoples'/distant voyages and the 
wealth of Asia are made by Rabelais, Montaigne and Bodin. 
But the religious wars which occupied France during the last 
thirty years of the century enabled the English and Dutch to 
gain ground, though Henri IV had entertained vast commercial 
and colonising projects after the Treaty of Vervins. In his 
colonial as well as in his home and foreign policy Henri adopted 
an absolute attitude. In his reign French absolutism is seen 
at its best, for though he was ambitious and a lover of pleasure 
his chief thought was for the State and not for himself. France 
after the religious wars required a strong, unselfish and capable 
ruler, and found one in Henri IV. 




SHORTLY before his death Henri IV had arranged that his 
Queen, Marie de' Medici, should be crowned at St. Denis and 
appointed his Regent. Europe was practically at peace at the 
time of the accession of his son Louis XIII, then nine years old. 
In 1609 the long war between Spain and the United Netherlands 
had closed, and in 1612 the peace between France and Spain 
was cemented by the engagement of Louis XIII to Anne, daughter 
of Philip III, known later as Anne of Austria, and by that of 
Elizabeth, sister of Louis, to Philip, Prince of the Austurias 
and brother of Anne. From the death of Henri IV to the 
suppression of the Huguenot rebellions between 1626 and 1630 
France however had little influence in Europe. During that 
period the weakness of the Crown and the lack of governing 
power on the part of Marie de' Medici, who was influenced by 
favourites such as Leonora Galigai and her husband Concini, 
(created in 1613 Marshal d'Ancre), brought about at once a 
state of things resembling civil war. Sully was dismissed a 
year after Henri's death, and the money which he had accumu- 
lated in the Treasury was wasted in various ways, pensions as 
well as governorships being heaped upon the nobles. Under 
such a weak ruler as was Marie de' Medici the feudal element 
rapidly became discontented and more and more grasping, 
while the Huguenots were greatly discontented at limits being 
set to their right of assembling in Council, at the reclamation 
of the Church lands in Beam and at the Spanish marriages. 
When therefore Conde headed a rebellion in 1614, accusing 
the Crown of prodigality and demanding the summoning of 
the States-General, Marie de' Medici saw the necessity of 
yielding, and in October 1614 the States-General met in Paris. 
It is remarkable not for what it did, but for the fact that it did 
not meet again till the outbreak of the French Revolution in 
1789. During its proceedings in 1614 Richelieu distinguished 
himself by his grasp of national questions, and two years later 
he became Secretary of State, controlling war and foreign affairs. 
The States-General was dissolved in February 1615, and in 
the same year the double marriages aforesaid took place at 
Bordeaux, whilst Conde, who had again headed a rising, was 


declared in September a rebel. In May 1616 however Marie 
de' Medici made terms with Cond6 and his Huguenot allies. 
The Treaty of Loudun, according to which Cond became Chief 
of the Council, implied the triumph of the nobles over the 
Crown ; but somewhat suddenly Marie showed unexpected 
energy : Conde* was hi September thrown into the Bastille, 
and three armies were sent to suppress the rebellious nobles. 
Marie's reign of power had however now come to a close, for 
on April 24, 1617 Louis XIII carried out a coup d'&at, D'Ancre 
(Concini) was killed, Marie de' Medici retired to Bio is, and 
Richelieu was sent to his diocese. 

The next seven years form a confused and somewhat 
uninteresting portion of French history. In 1620 a rebellion 
of the nobles on behalf of Marie de' Medici took place, but this 
was, through Richelieu's influence, ended by the Treaty of 
Angouleme, resulting in the reconciliation of the King and his 
nobles. A rising of the Huguenots followed in the same year, 
and the war between them and the Crown in 1621 and 1622 
ended with the Treaty of Montpellier, which forbad the Hugue- 
nots, who now only occupied two strong places, La Rochelle 
and Montauban, to hold political meetings. Before hostilities 
had actually broken out, Louis had marched to Pau and reunited 
Beam and Navarre to the Crown. Shortly after this war 
Richelieu was reconciled to the King, and in September 1622 
he became a Cardinal. Meanwhile in 1618 the Thirty Years' 
War had broken out, and the possibility of the House of 
Habsburg becoming all-powerful hi Europe had to be considered. 

For the next fourteen years France took no active part in 
checking the progress of the Catholic League in Germany. In 
1624 however Richelieu entered the King's Council, and till 
his death in 1642 he directed French policy at home and abroad. 
Before France could intervene actively in the Thirty Years' 
War it was necessary that she should be united at home. Prior 
to dealing with the Huguenots, who were not only as intolerant 
as the Catholics but who placed the interests of their religion 
before that of the State, Richelieu was able to deal a blow at 
the Habsburgs by preventing the Spaniards from conquering 
the Valtellina. 1 He continued the alliance of France with 
Holland, and he negotiated the marriage between Henrietta 
Maria, the sister of Louis XIII, and Charles Prince of Wales. 
His next step was to bring about unity in France by crushing 
the Huguenots and checking by severe measures the turbulence 
of the nobles. The Huguenot leaders, Soubise and Rohan, gave 

1 N.E. of Lake Como. 


him the opportunity when they organised in 1625 a rising which 
was speedily quelled. In 1627 a more serious Huguenot rising 
took place, which was encouraged by the appearance of Bucking- 
ham and the English fleet off La Rochelle in July. In the follow- 
ing year, though the English fleet had returned in May it could 
do nothing, and La Rochelle fell to Richelieu on October 28. 
In 1629 the Treaty of Alais gave France internal peace. With 
the destruction of the fortifications of La Rochelle no town 
now existed which could oppose the forces of the Crown. At 
the same time by the Treaty full toleration was given to the 
Huguenots, which they enjoyed till Louis XIV revoked the 
Edict of Nantes in 1685. 

With the selfish nobles Richelieu dealt equally drastically and 
successfully. He easily suppressed a conspiracy which included 
Conde, the Duchess of Chevreuse (widow of Luynes) and several 
nobles, and in November 1630 (the " Day of Dupes ") he crushed 
a more serious conspiracy which was headed by the Queen-Mother 
and supported by Gaston Duke of Orleans and several nobles. 
In 1632 Orleans again conspired in Languedoc with the Governor, 
one Montmorency, who was executed, Orleans being pardoned. 
Richelieu was now secure from noble conspiracies and able to 
devote his energies to the situation abroad. 

In 1624 the war of the Mantuan Succession had broken out, 
Casale, which was held by some French volunteers, being 
besieged by Spanish and Savoy troops. Richelieu at once led 
a force into Italy and relieved Casale. He then returned to 
force the Huguenots to complete submission, and after the 
Treaty of Alais had been signed he returned to Italy and took 
Pinerolo, near Turin, on March 22, 1630. 

Since 1624, when he began to direct the policy of France, 
Richelieu had realised the necessity of re-establishing France in 
the position in Europe in which Henri IV had left her. But 
before the country could withstand Austria and Spain and 
extend and safeguard her frontiers it was necessary to secure 
national unity at home and monarchical centralisation. In 
1630 national unity had been secured and was rendered more 
permanent by the creation of a class of Intendants, who aided 
in the formation of an administrative system on the ruins of 
provincial and noble liberties. This absolute and centralised 
system continued till the French Revolution. 

After the overthrow of the conspiracy of Marie de' Medici 
and Gaston of Orleans in November 1630, Richelieu's position 
at home was practically unassailable, and he was able to give 
his whole attention to foreign policy. Already he had in 1630 



*' ^a^ 

French boundary in> 1610 
Acquisitions under Henry IF 1589-1610 

I/outsZZF 7643 -77/5 



sent Father Joseph to the Diet of Ratisbon in order that he 
might sow discord between the Princes and the Emperor. In 
1631 the Treaty of Cherasco, a brilliant triumph for Richelieu, 
had closed the war of the Mantuan Succession. The death of 
Gustavus Adolphus in the battle of Lutzen in November 1632 
closed the religious period of the Thirty Years' War, which now 
tended more and more to become a struggle of France, Sweden 
and Holland against the Habsburgs--a struggle into which 
Henri IV at the end of his reign had proposed to enter. Having 
therefore occupied Lorraine and invaded Alsace in 1633, the 
King of France in 1634 took Bernhard of Saxe- Weimar and his 
troops into his pay, and a French army at the end of the year 
occupied Mannheim and forced the Imperialists to raise the 
siege of Heilbronn. 

From 1634 to 1638 the fortunes of the war varied. George 
of Saxony and the Emperor made peace in 1635, while, on the 
other hand, Sweden and France formed a new alliance, and 
France declared war on Spain and made treaties with the United 
Provinces and the Italian Princes. During the years 1635 and 

1636 the French failed to reduce the Milanese, Burgundy was 
invaded by the Austrians, and Spanish forces threatened 
Guyenne. The invasion of Picardy in 1636 by the Spaniards, 
though they were driven back, caused a panic in Paris ; but in 

1637 the tide turned in favour of the French (though they lost 
their hold on the Valtellina), for in that year the Spaniards were 
driven out of Languedoc, and in the following year the French 
fleet dominated the Mediterranean. In reply to risings in 
Guyenne and Normandy the local privileges in those provinces 
were suspended, and to Intendants were given the duties of 
administration. Alsace was occupied by French troops, and in 
1640 the revolt of the Catalans and Portuguese distinctly 
weakened the aggressive power of the Spaniards. 

Richelieu's war administration had now been crowned with 
success. France was no longer in danger of invasion, Spain 
was crippled, and the power of the Emperor was steadily 
weakening. Successful abroad, Richelieu was able to develop 
his policy of centralisation at home, and in 1641 the Parlement 
of Paris was ordered to register all royal edicts without delay 
and was forbidden to exercise any political functions. 

Thus while in his foreign policy he continued that opposition 
to the Habsburgs which marked the years 1521-1558 and which 
continued till the diplomatic revolution of 1756, Richelieu's 
policy at home aimed at the gradual establishment of a centralised 
and absolute government based on the destruction of noble and 

F 4 


provincial liberties. From 1632 to the Cardinal's death in 1642 
the nobles appeared to submit to the loss of their political power, 
but no sooner were Richelieu and Louis XIII dead 1 than the 
reactionary nobles, acting like their predecessors after the 
death of Henri IV, began to demand the abolition of the Inten- 
dants and the restoration to them of the government of the 



THE first act of Anne of Austria, who acted as Regent during 
Louis XIV's minority, was to place Cardinal Mazarin at the 
head of the Council. For some ten years the struggle between 
Mazarin and his opponents the nobles continued, his position 
at home being distinctly affected by the success or failure of 
the French armies abroad. Thus the victory of Rocroi over 
the Spaniards by the young Duke of Enghien (later Prince of 
Conde) in May 1643 strengthened Mazarin' s hands in suppress- 
ing the conspiracy of the Importants on September 2. Again, 
in 1645 an early outbreak of the Fronde a revolt of the nobles, 
Parlement and citizens of Paris against Mazarin was only 
averted by the victory of Enghien and Turenne over the 
Imperialists in the battle of Nordlingen ; a few weeks after 
Nordlingen therefore a lit de justice was held. 

But already in 1644 it was found absolutely necessary to 
raise money, and the proposals of the Treasurer Emery were 
causing widespread discontent. The necessary taxes were 
voted and the Government had triumphed : but the triumph 
did not last long. The continuance of the war had completely 
disorganised the financial administration. In May 1648 
matters came to a head, and the Parlement of Paris formulated 
its demands in the Chamber of St. Louis, one being the aboli- 
tion of the Intendants, another that no tax should be levied 
unless previously voted by the Parlement. The arrest of 
Broussel, one of the chief opponents of Mazarin, on August 6 
led to a rising in Paris. In September the Court moved to 
Rueil, away from the influence of the capital, Mazarin carrying 
out a policy which Mirabeau in 1790 in vain urged upon 
Louis XVI. On October 24 the Treaty of Westphalia 2 and 

1 Louis died on May 14, 1643, his son Louis XIV being then four years old. 

2 Putting an end to the Thirty Years' War. 


the Treaty with the Parliamentary Fronde were signed, and 
on October 30 the Court returned to Paris. The Treaty of 
Westphalia was a triumphant close to the wars between France 
and the Habsburgs, begun under Francis I. France obtained 
Upper and Lower Alsace, though the rights of the Imperial 
princes had to be recognised. Her possession of the Metz, 
Toul and Verdun bishoprics was recognised, and she obtained 
Old Breisach on the right bank of the Rhine. Spain however 
continued the war against France, till in 1659 the Peace of 
the Pyrenees completed the pacification of Europe. 

Meanwhile in France the Parliamentary Fronde had con- 
tinued its attacks on the Government, and on January 5, 1644, 
Mazarin suddenly moved the Court to Saint-Germain. Civil 
war broke out and continued till April 2 when the Treaty of 
Rueil a compromise ended the Twelve Weeks' War, and in 
August the Court returned to Paris, Conde who was now 
reconciled to Mazarin having suppressed risings in Normandy, 
Provence, Anjou and Guyenne. But the unstable though 
powerful Conde soon turned against Mazarin, and the move- 
ment known as the New Fronde, formed by the nobles and 
princes, took shape, one of its chief members being the Cardinal 
de Retz. 

A confused period of history is that of the years 1644-1654, 
chiefly marked by the arrest of the three princes Conde, 
Conti and Longueville in January 1650, and their imprison- 
ment till February 1651, when Mazarin retired to Cologne, by 
the attainment of his majority by Louis XIV, and by the 
opposition of Turenne to the Court. This was however 
followed by his loyal support of the King in 1652, when he 
won the battle of Jargeau in March, cutting Conde's Spanish 
contingent to pieces in May, and defeating Conde in the Fau- 
bourg St. Antoine in July. In consequence, Louis XIV was 
able to return to Paris in October to arrest De Retz and to 
exile many of the leading Frondeurs. In February 1653 
Mazarin returned to Paris, and in the following year Louis was 
crowned at Reims. 

The Fronde movement being over, Mazarin was able to 
devote his attention to the war with Spain. Taking advantage 
of the civil war in France the Spanish troops had taken Grave- 
lines and Dunkirk in 1652. Negotiations for an English 
alliance were opened at the close of 1655, and the Treaty of 
Paris between France and England was signed in March 1657, 
by which England was to receive Dunkirk and Mardyck in 
consideration for her assistance with 6,000 men. In the fol- 


lowing year the advantage of this alliance was seen, for both 
Dunkirk and Gravelines were taken from the Spaniards by 
the French. The fate of Spain was now settled, and in August 
the efforts of Lionne were successful in forming the League of 
the Rhine, consisting of Sweden, Bavaria and the Rhine 
Electors, the object of which was to secure their adherence to 
France. Negotiations were also opened with England and 
Holland to secure the enforcement of the Treaty of Roskild 
which had been made between Denmark and Charles X of 
Sweden, who had been warring in Northern Europe since 1655. 
On November 7, 1659 the Peace of the Pyrenees closed the 
war between France and Spain, France gaining Roussillon, 
Cerdagne (south-west of Roussillon), Artois and a number of 
fortresses in Flanders, Luxemburg and Hainault. In the 
succeeding February the death of Charles X led to the estab- 
lishment of peace in the north, while on May 29 Charles II 
returned to England. In March of the following year (1661) 
Mazarin died, Fouquet, late Treasurer, was imprisoned, and 
Colbert became the leading minister in France. Louis XIV 
henceforward not only reigned but ruled. 

" Vital Jest moi " expressed accurately the principle upon 
which Louis XIV ruled from 1661 to his death in 1715. He 
adopted the theory of divine right and was convinced that his 
decisions could not be otherwise than correct. His policy 
towards the Huguenots, Jansenists 1 and Quietists was based 
on religion, though in his attacks upon them he weakened the 
unity and prosperity of France. During his reign the States- 
General were never summoned, and in 1673 the Parlement of 
Paris was ordered to register all Royal edicts without remon- 
strance. All ancient municipal liberties were crushed even in 
Provence and Brittany, while the nobles, though allowed to 
keep their privileges, were not admitted into government 
offices, and ceased to be a political power. Indeed, when after 
Louis XIV's death the Regent Orleans attempted to make use 
of the nobles, it was found that they were quite incapable of 
carrying on jany administrative functions. (The cleavage 
between classes was clearly illustrated by the departure from 
France of the nobles during the early years of the French 
Revolution.) Louis was moreover supported by the Church 
which desired the repression of Huguenotism, and by the Jesuits 
whose jealousy of the Jansenists became frequently apparent. 

1 Theologians who held the somewhat fatalistic doctrines of Jansen ( 1585-1 638). 
They were vehemently supported by Pascal. 


The new administrative system which Richelieu had to 
some extent founded was fully established and developed 
under Louis XIV. Over all the provinces were Intendants, 
whom Richelieu had first used, and who had been fiercely 
attacked by the Frondeurs, and with some reason : for the 
Intendants with their assistants (sub-deUgu6s) exercised a com- 
plete supervision over the provinces. In establishing a strong, 
absolute, personal monarchy Louis was supported by the 
nation, which had realised during the Fronde the worth lessness 
and selfishness of the nobles. Royalty was popular in France, 
and the French people looked to their King to defend the 
frontiers, to check all internal anarchy and to inaugurate a 
successful foreign policy. 

After the death of Mazarin Louis found ready to serve him 
soldiers like Turenne, diplomatists like Lionne, Servien and 
Gremonville, and an administrator in Colbert. To place 
France in the foremost place among the nations of Europe at 
the earliest possible moment was Louis' fixed determination. 

He soon was able to put his ideas into force owing to the 
state of European politics between 1660 and 1678. In fact, 
till the Peace of Ryswick (1697) the policy of Charles II and 
James II of England, the weakness of Holland after the Treaty 
of Nimwegen (1678), the collapse of the Spanish monarchy, 
and the war between Austria and Turkey which, opening in 
serious fashion in 1683, only ended with the Peace of Carlowitz 
in 1699, enabled Louis XIV to carry out successfully an aggres- 
sive policy in Western Europe. Had he adopted the views of 
Leibnitz with regard to Egypt, and at the same time strongly 
supported Colbert's colonial and Indian schemes and resisted 
his own desire to extend the French frontier, the position of 
his country at the end of his reign would have been strong. 
As it was he anticipated the action of France in the Seven 
Years' War, devoted his chief efforts to strengthening the 
French position in Europe and adding to his possessions, only 
to find at the end of his reign that France had suffered enor- 
mously, that the greater portion of his conquests had to be 
restored, and that England had gained a foothold in Canada. 

On the death of Mazarin in March 1661 the personal rule 
of Louis XIV began. The young King, like Napoleon, was 
practical, and like Napoleon he had a scorn for most ministers 
except as useful hacks, suppressed able men and encouraged 
obedient mediocrity. " I wish you could see the King," wrote 
Primi Visconti, " he has the air of a great dissembler and the 
eyes of a fox." France, it has been said, is the land of common 


sense, and Louis XIV was the most French of Frenchmen. 
Under Louis the theory of absolute monarchy was shown in 
action, while under the later Stuarts it was never pressed to its 
logical conclusion. 

The young King lost no time in asserting his authority. 
The fall of Fouquet and the appointment of Colbert in Sep- 
tember 1661 clearly indicated that Louis intended to be his 
own First Minister. The struggle during the following month 
in London between the French and Spanish Ambassadors ended 
in the victory of the former. 

The European situation was moreover calculated to facili- 
tate Louis' determination to place France in the leading posi- 
tion in Europe. The League of the Rhine and a war between 
the Emperor Leopold I and the Turks in 1663 and 1664 in 
which the former was aided by French troops indicated clearly 
the weakness of Germany, in which such States as Brandenburg 
and Bavaria held semi- independent positions. As his reign 
proceeded it became evident that no serious opposition to 
Louis' schemes would proceed from England as long as it was 
ruled by Stuart kings. Nor was any danger to be anticipated 
from Spain. 

In 1665 Portugal secured its independence : in the same 
year Philip IV of Spain died and was succeeded by Carlos II, 
whose weak health seemed to presage his early death, in which 
case it was almost certain that the partition of the Spanish 
dominions would at once take place, and Spain would suffer 
the fate destined for Poland in the following century. This 
fact explains the anxiety of Louis to be first in the field, and 
as soon as possible to make himself master of the Spanish 
Netherlands. Events seemed to aid him in the most unexpected 
way, for during the years 1665, 1666, and till July 1667, England 
and Holland were engaged in a fierce struggle, while the Emperor 
was occupied with troubles in Hungary which Louis had 
stirred up. 

Taking advantage of the European situation, Louis, basing 
his action on a civil custom which prevailed in Brabant, 
claimed Flanders in the name of his wife Maria Theresa, whom 
as Infanta of Spain he had married in 1660. Her claims on the 
Netherlands had on her marriage been renounced, but Louis 
as early as 1662 had endeavoured though in vain to obtain 
the revocation of that renunciation, and to secure possession of 
Luxemburg, Hainault, Cambrai and Franche-Comte. In 1667 
his army had been thoroughly reorganised by Le Tellier ; 
Flanders was conquered by Turenne in the months of May, 


June, July and August 1667 in what was called the Jus Devo- 
lulionis War, and in February 1668 Conde occupied Franche- 

These successes had however alarmed Europe. England 
and Holland composed their differences by the Treaty of Breda 
in July 1667, and on January 23, 1668 the famous Triple 
Alliance between England, Holland and Sweden to check the 
French designs was formed. Four days however before this 
Treaty was signed Louis had made a secret Treaty of Partition 
of the Spanish Empire with the Emperor Leopold. Louis was 
now faced with a possible war against a powerful coalition, 
but taking the advice of Lionne and Colbert he agreed to enter 
into negotiations, the result being the Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle 
in May, in accordance with which Louis withdrew from Lor- 
raine but kept possession of twelve strong fortresses in the 
Spanish Netherlands, which was now at his mercy. During the 
next four years he devoted his efforts to securing the isolation 
of Holland. Not only did he hope to ruin her politically and 
economically, but he wished in accordance with his treaty with 
the Emperor to annex the Spanish Netherlands. In his pre- 
parations he received valuable help financially from Colbert, and 
diplomatically from Le Tellier, who also strengthened the army. 

In 1670 his work of breaking up the Triple Alliance and 
forming a powerful combination against Holland definitely 
began. Not only was a defensive alliance with Bavaria con- 
cluded in February, and the Elector's support secured in the 
event of the partition of the Spanish Empire, but in June the 
infamous secret Treaty of Dover was made between Louis and 
the English King Charles II, who undertook not only to assist 
Louis in his schemes against the Spanish monarchy but also 
to aid in the coming Dutch war. In the following year treaties 
were signed with various North German princes, and in 1672 
Sweden agreed to join the League against Holland. War was 
declared by France upon the Dutch Republic in April 1672, 
and Holland was invaded. 

By opening the sluices the Dutch, who had already been 
promised assistance by the Great Elector, saved Amsterdam 
from capture, and the French retired, only to enter upon a 
war of five years with the Emperor, Spain, Holland, Branden- 
burg and the Prince of Lorraine. Successful till 1675, when 
Turenne died, the war continued till August 1678, when it was 
closed by the Peace of Nimwegen * (Nijmegen). By this treaty 
Louis gained Franche-Comte, various towns stretching from 

1 Called Nimeguen by the French. 


Dunkirk to the Meuse, and practically half of Flanders, Spain 
thus being the chief sufferer. But during the war Louis had 
been compelled to realise that his hopes of effecting a Roman 
Catholic restoration in England were doomed to failure. He 
was however now in a position admirably adapted for fresh 

During the ensuing ten years Louis acted as though he were 
not only supreme in Europe but as though it were impossible 
for any power or powers to check him. Such was his fame that the 
King of Siam allowed the establishment of a French factory in 
1680 and sent embassies to France in 1681 and 1686. The creation 
of Versailles, which became the official seat of the monarchy, 
the Chambres de Reunion by means of which Strassburg, Casale 
and other less important places were occupied by French 
troops, the Truce of Ratisbon in 1684 with Spain which gave 
Louis for twenty years possession of all the towns assigned to 
him by the Chambres de Reunion, and the revocation of the 
Edict of Nantes in 1685 all mark the period when the Roi 
Soleil had reached the meridian of his splendour. From that 
date the opposition to Louis becomes steadily stronger, and the 
year 1685 may be compared to the year 1807, when Napoleon 
signed the Treaty of Tilsit, thinking that he was supreme in 
Europe and that his position was impregnable. 

In 1683 the death of Colbert took place, and had Louis not 
devoted himself to furthering the aggrandisement of France in 
Europe he might have adopted the scheme presented to him 
by Leibnitz in 1672 for the conquest of Egypt and the com- 
mand of the Mediterranean trade, thus anticipating the policy 
of Napoleon. As it was, in spite of Louis' wars in Europe, 
Colbert had at the time of his death succeeded to some extent 
in his colonial and trading policy. The colonial policy of 
Colbert followed closely on that of Henri IV and Richelieu, 
who imitated the policy of England and Holland and organised 
companies to counteract the vast accumulation of transmarine 
possessions by Spain. The special motive however underlying 
the colonial policy of Richelieu and indeed of Mazarin was the 
propagation of Christianity. " In 1629," we read, Richelieu 
promulgated an ordinance imposing " religious missions upon 
the Companies, and Catholicism upon the Catholics, making 
Christianity almost as important as commerce in the colonial 
question." As a result, the Jesuits soon acquired great power 
among the colonies in North America. Unfortunately the 
Government also insisted on directing and superintending all 
colonial projects, and thus from the first officialism and ecclesi- 


asticism represented by priests, nobles and officials hampered 
the natural development of overseas enterprises. This system 
was entirely unlike that of England and Holland, both of which 
countries formed chartered associations for trade purposes, 
the English practice being to leave the merchant adventurers 
to plant factories and settlements on their own responsibility 
and with their own resources. 

Under Colbert however France had entered upon a period of 
great colonial expansion, marked in 1664 by the formation of 
the two Companies of the East and West Indies. The East 
India Company was not to busy itself with conquering and 
converting the heathen but was to secure for France a con- 
siderable share of the commerce in Asiatic goods. Extension 
of trade, not the conversion of the heathen, was the chief 
object of Colbert's policy. Nevertheless it was stated that if 
the heathen agreed to accept Christianity they would become 
naturalised French subjects. Having little faith in the con- 
sistency of a Government as despotic as was that of Louis XIV, 
French traders gave the Companies a very qualified support, 
and about 1674 the West India Company broke down. Never- 
theless the East India Company, in spite of its early failure to 
colonise Madagascar or to gain a foothold in India, might have 
been successful had not Louis plunged France into a series of 
continental wars, in which plans of campaign were substituted 
for colonial and commercial projects. 

Though in some respects the colonial prospects of France 
were by no means unpromising at the time of Colbert's death, 
Louis had during the ten years following the Peace of Nimwegen 
in 1678 made a series of blunders which not only tended to 
weaken France but also to rouse the hitherto latent opposition 
to him in the greater part of Europe. In July 1686 the League 
of Augsburg was formed a League which included the Em- 
peror, the Kings of Spain and Sweden, the Dutch Republic, 
the Elector of Saxony, the Elector Palatine, and the circles of 
Bavaria, Franconia and the Upper Rhine. It was joined in 
the following year by the Dukes of Bavaria and Savoy. By 
1689 the League had become the Grand Alliance, and was 
headed by William of Orange, who had become King of England 
at the beginning of the year. In July Louis declared war 
against England, and thus opened the Second Hundred Years' 
War, which continued, with intervals of peace, till 1815. 

Writing of the European situation in 1683 Leopold von 
Ranke points out that " the most prominent question of the 


day and that of the highest importance for the further develop- 
ment of mankind in Europe was the rise of the French monarchy 
to an universal preponderance which threatened the indepen- 
dence of every country and every race." 1 

Owing to James II' s somewhat independent attitude towards 
Louis, and the belief held in some quarters that the arrival in 
England of William of Orange would be followed by a civil war 
which would distract the attention of the English people from 
continental affairs, no attempt was made to hinder William's 
landing at Torbay. After war with England had broken out 
in May 1689 Louis attempted to rectify his serious blunder by 
sending over to Ireland early in 1690 a corps (of 7,300 men) 
under Lauzun. Though the French fleet won the battle of 
Beachy Head on June 30, the cause of James was lost the 
following day in the battle of the Boyne. 

Undeterred by James' defeat Louis, whose troops were 
winning victories in Italy, Belgium and Germany, projected a 
French invasion of England, but his fleet was on May 19, 
1692 defeated in the battle of La Hogue by an Anglo-Dutch 
fleet. The capture of Namur, the victories of Steenkerke, 
Neerwinden, Landen and Marsaglia in the years 1692 and 1693 
merely helped to exhaust the resources of France. In 1695 
the French lost Casale, but in the following year Louis detached 
Victor Amadeus of Savoy from the League and was thus enabled 
to transfer troops to Flanders. It was however now becoming 
evident that the question of the Spanish Succession, in the 
expected event of the death of Carlos II, might at any moment 
be before Europe, and in consequence Louis showed himself 
favourable to a cessation of hostilities. In 1697 the Peace of 
Ryswick (Rijswijk) closed the war, Louis recognising William III 
as King of England, allowing the chief strongholds on the 
frontier of the Spanish Netherlands to be garrisoned by Dutch 
troops, and ceding to the Emperor all towns taken since the 
Treaty of Nimwegen except Landau and Strassburg. He 
promised also to restore to England all the lands conquered in 
Hudson's Bay and Newfoundland. 

Thus the Peace of Ryswick marked the first occasion on 
which Louis made overtures for peace, while its terms consti- 
tuted an open condemnation of the policy pursued since the 
Treaty of Nimwegen. The effect too of the revocation of the 
Edict of Nantes was now apparent. Huguenot industries had 
been driven from the country, new manufactures could not 

1 L. von Ranke, History of England principally in the Seventeenth Century, 
book xxi, chap, x, p. 298. Oxford : The University Press, 1875, 


now be created, the country was impoverished, all necessaries 
were at a high price, the late war had exhausted the finances. 
In this deplorable state of things it is said that " every man 
was either soldier, beggar or smuggler." Nevertheless it 
must be remembered on behalf of Louis that the Grand Alliance 
was now broken up and that France " with her recuperative 
powers and her well-organised government remained," in 
spite of her apparent set-back at Ryswick, " the strongest and 
most united power in Europe." * Louis' attention was now 
however fixed not on the internal condition of France but on 
the question of the Spanish Succession, and in October 1698 
the First Partition Treaty and in March 1700 the Second Par- 
tition Treaty both of them made with William III were 
drawn up. 

The news of the Partition Treaties roused the greatest indig- 
nation in Spain, and on October 3, 1700 Carlos made a will 
leaving the Crown of Spain to the Duke of Anjou, the grandson 
of Louis XIV. On November 1 Carlos died and Louis, throw- 
ing the Treaties overboard, accepted the will. " II n'y a plus 
de Pyrenees" exclaimed the Spanish Ambassador in Paris ; 
but, what was more important, Louis in December reserved 
the right of Philip of Anjou, the new King (Philip V) of Spain, 
to the crown of France. In England the Parliament in 
February 1701 accepted the situation, but the Spanish Suc- 
cession War was rendered inevitable by Louis' actions during 
the year. His troops occupied in February the fortresses 
forming the Dutch Barrier in the Netherlands, and a feeling 
hostile to France began to show itself during the summer in 

On September 7 the Grand Alliance was again formed by 
William, the Emperor and Holland, but Louis made war in- 
evitable when on the death of James II in September he recog- 
nised his son as James III of England. The English Parlia- 
ment, furious at this act on the part of Louis, decided on war : 
and this was declared in London, Vienna and at The Hague 
on May 4, 1702. Meanwhile William III had died in March 
and been succeeded by Queen Anne, who formed a ministry of 

In the ensuing war colonial questions came much to the fore. 

Since the year 1683 the French colonists in Canada " in 
whose traditions lived the memories of Cartier and Champlain " 
had been full of energy. La Salle had advanced south from 
the Great Lakes to the Mississippi and had reached the sea, 

1 Cambridge Modern History, vol. v, p. 63. 


giving the country through which he passed the name of 
Louisiana after Louis XIV. The English colonists, who far 
outnumbered the French colonists the latter amounting only 
to about 11,000 were thus encircled, and their advance west- 
wards checked. From that time the antagonism between the 
two races increased and frequently showed itself in massacres 
and petty wars. From one point of view the Spanish Succes- 
sion War was a colonial war, for in Queen Anne's declaration 
of war against France on May 4, 1702 it was stated that the 
union of France and Spain must be resisted, otherwise " the 
free intercourse of navigation and commerce in the Mediter- 
ranean, India and other places will be utterly destroyed." 

In 1699 Vauban, in his Memoir e sur les Colonies, saw clearly 
the necessity of abolishing the religious orders in North America 
where, he says, " the monks are incomparably more successful 
in enriching themselves than in converting the heathen." A 
few years later the French colonies were reduced by the terms 
of the Peace of Utrecht (1713), which, wrote Alberoni, " has 
left the seeds of endless war," but it was not till 1763 that the 
results of the Seven Years' War completely fulfilled Vauban' s 
forebodings, though during the years from 1713 to 1758 it 
seemed not unlikely that France would hold her own in North 
America and in India. 

Already during 1701 war had broken out in Italy between 
the French and the Austrians under Prince Eugene, who had 
successfully withstood the French advance. On the outbreak 
of the general European war in 1702 Louis was supported by 
the Elector of Bavaria and his brother Joseph Clement of 
Cologne, and at first he could rely upon Victor Amadeus of 
Savoy, and on Portugal. But in May 1703 Portugal joined 
the Grand Alliance, and thus the operations of the English 
and Dutch troops in Spain were facilitated ; while on August 4, 
1704 Gibraltar was captured by Rooke, who subsequently 
inflicted a severe defeat upon the French fleet under the Count 
of Toulouse with the result that during the remainder of the 
war the Allies were supreme in the Mediterranean. 

Meanwhile in August 1704 Marlborough had won the battle 
of Blenheim, and Vienna was saved from a French attack. 
Before the year closed however Villars had removed one 
source of weakness to the French cause by suppressing the 
rebellion of the Camisards l in the C6vennes, which had broken 
out in the previous year. The following year was marked by 

1 An armed body of Protestants who revolted after the revocation of the 
Edict of Nantes. 


the death of the Emperor Leopold, his son Joseph, who reigned 
till 1711, succeeding him. No military event of great impor- 
tance however took place till May 1706, when the French 
sustained a decisive defeat at the battle of Ramillies, the result 
being the loss of the Netherlands. Other important events 
marked the year. The Archduke Charles of Austria was pro- 
claimed King of Spain in June, while after the battle of Turin 
in September all French troops evacuated Piedmont. Louis 
in the previous month had made his first overtures for peace. 
He was willing to consent to the cession of Spain to the Arch- 
duke Charles if Philip were given Milan, Naples and Sicily. 
These proposals the Allies refused to accept, and military 
operations continued. The year 1707 was an anxious one for 
the Allies. Marlborough's operations were seriously hampered 
by the fear that Charles XII, the King of Sweden, who in 
April was in Saxony, would attack Vienna, as Louis XIV hoped. 
Fortunately for the Allies he turned to the Ukraine and was 
defeated at Pultava in 1709 by Peter the Great. Nevertheless 
the presence of Charles in Germany had hindered the arrival 
of German contingents in Western Europe. During the year 
Louis had evacuated Italy and transferred his troops to Spain, 
Flanders and the Rhine. In April the defeat of the Allies by 
the Spaniards in the battle of Almanza assured the throne of 
Spain to the House of Bourbon, and in August Eugene and 
Victor Amadeus invaded Provence, but failed to take Poulon. 
Meanwhile Vauban remained on the defensive on the borders 
of the Netherlands, while Villars invaded Germany. The loss 
of Italy to the Spanish monarchy constituted the only reverse 
which the French sustained during 1707, though the Whigs 
in England had passed a resolution in October that no Bourbon 
was to rule in Spain. The year 1708 saw the defeat of the 
French in the battle of Oudenarde and the loss of the citadel 
of Lille after a brilliant defence by Boufflers. Louis was now 
ready to make peace, and negotiations were opened in February 
1709 at The Hague. But Louis found it impossible to accept 
the proposed terms, the negotiations broke down, and he made 
a direct appeal to the French nation which roused the greatest 
enthusiasm. In September Villars was defeated in the battle of 
Malplaquet ; but while the French had about 12,000 casualties, 
those of the Allies reached 20,000. In 1710 peace conferences 
took place at Gertruydenberg, but as Louis refused to take 
up arms against Philip no result followed, while before the 
end of the year the defeat of the Allies in Spain at Brihuega 
(December 8) and at Villa Viciosa (December 10) practically 


ruined the Habsburg cause in the Peninsula and left Philip 
assured of his throne. 

Several events now took place favourable to France and 
the cause of peace. In the summer of 1710 the warlike Whig 
Ministry fell and was succeeded by a Tory Government, of 
which the chief members were Harley and St. John. In April 
1711 the death of the Dauphin, son of Louis XIV, took place, 
and in the same month the Emperor Joseph died and was 
succeeded by the Archduke Charles, henceforward known as 
Charles VI. It was obviously impossible to continue the war 
in order to place the crown of Spain on the head of the new 
Emperor, and accordingly in October the English ministers 
announced that they were about to treat for peace. Warlike 
operations however had continued, and in September Marl- 
borough had taken Bouchain and was ready to make an advance 
into France. However on December 31 the Tory Govern- 
ment dismissed him from all his offices. In January 1712 
negotiations between the Allies and France were opened at 
Utrecht. Owing to the deaths of the Duke l and Duchess of 
Burgundy and of their son the Duke of Brittany in February 
and March, their youngest son became Dauphin and later 
Louis XV. 

On April 11, 1713 the Peace of Utrecht was signed. While 
the Spanish now became the Austrian Netherlands, the United 
Provinces were given a strong barrier to defend them against 
French aggression. France yielded Newfoundland, Acadia 
(Nova Scotia) and Hudson's Bay to England, though she 
reserved Cape Breton and fishing rights. She recognised the 
Protestant succession in England and engaged to dismantle 
Dunkirk. Philip V renounced for himself and his heirs his 
claim to the French crown, and ceded to England Gibraltar 
and Minorca ; at the same time he granted to the South Sea 
Company the Asiento, which allowed the right of importing a 
certain number of slaves each year into Spanish America. 

As the Emperor and Empire had not joined in the Peace of 
Utrecht war continued between him and France in 1713 and 
till March 1714, when the Treaties of Rastatt and Baden were 

During the course of the war Clement XI had in 1705 issued 
a Bull denouncing the Jansenists, and in 1710 Louis, influ- 
enced by the Jesuits, ordered the destruction of their monastery 
Port Royal. In 1713 Clement issued the Bull Unigenitus con- 
demning a Jansenist book written by Father Quesnel and 

1 Son of the late Dauphin and grandson of Louis XIV. 


published in 1695, on the ground that it contained more than 
one hundred errors. Several French bishops refused to accept 
the Bull, as did the Parlement of Paris and many Frenchmen. 
Louis at once persecuted all who opposed the Bull and, at his 
death, France was on this subject divided into two bitterly 
hostile camps. On September 1, 1715 Louis died, and a 
famous era in French history was closed. He left France face 
to face with Great Britain, her rival in Canada, India and on 
the sea. 




THE Peace of Utrecht closed the second act in the Second 
Hundred Years' War between France and England. France 
had undoubtedly been the aggressor in 1688 and again in 1701 ; 
one result of the war had been to set up the Austrian instead 
of the Spanish rule in Flanders, whilst another gave England 
Gibraltar and a valuable portion of Canada Newfoundland, 
Nova Scotia and Hudson's Bay. Both countries needed rest 
after this long period of war, and till 1744 war between them 
did not formally break out, though the battle of Dettingen in 
the previous year marked in reality the beginning of the third 
phase in the Second Hundred Years' War. 

In 1717 the famous Triple Alliance, through the efforts of 
Dubois, was formed between France, England and Holland ; 
it was joined shortly afterwards by the Emperor Charles VI, 
the hostile attitude of Spain to France and Austria being 
evidenced by a plot formed by Cellamare, the Spanish Ambas- 
sador in Paris, and by the Spanish seizure of Sicily. In fact 
it was not till after the marriage of Louis XV and the birth of 
the Dauphin in 1729 that the King and Queen of Spain accepted 
the fact that the throne of France was closed to them. 

Meanwhile Orleans, who was appointed Regent in 1715 
Louis XV being but five years old attempted to rule the 
country by means of Councils of nobles, and generally by 
reversing the strictly autocratic rule of Louis XIV. The 


Parlement of Paris was restored to its former functions, but it 
proved refractory, and in 1720 it was exiled to Pontoise. The 
attempt too to govern France by means of Councils proved 
a failure, and before his death in December 1723 Orleans had 
to a great extent returned to the autocratic system of Louis XIV. 
Dubois had died in the previous August and the Duke of 
Bourbon became First Minister. In 1725 Bourbon arranged 
the marriage of Louis to Marie Leszczynska of Poland, and the 
same year saw Europe threatened by a war, both the Emperor 
Charles VI and Elizabeth Farnese, Queen of Spain, being for 
different reasons antagonistic to France and England. 

The alliance of Austria and Spain by the Treaty of Vienna 
in April 1725 was answered by the Treaty of Hanover between 
France, England and Prussia in September, and for a short time 
the outbreak of hostilities seemed imminent. But various events 
saved Europe from a general war. Catherine I succeeded Peter 
the Great in February 1725, and she was strongly in favour of 
a French Alliance, while Ripperda, the warlike Spanish minister, 
fell from power in May 1726, and his successor Patifio the 
Colbert of Spain was, like the British minister Walpole as 
well as Fleury, who succeeded Bourbon the same year, a strong 
advocate of peace. War did indeed break out in 1727, but 
only between England and Spain, the government of which 
latter country wished to secure Gibraltar. Two years later, 
the birth of the Dauphin having taken place in September 1729, 
Spain joined France and England in the Treaty of Seville 
(October), by which the succession of Don Carlos, brother to 
King Philip, to the Italian Duchies was guaranteed, and in 
1731 was carried out, the Maritime Powers securing the assent 
of the Emperor by guaranteeing the Pragmatic Sanction. The 
peace of Europe being apparently assured the Parlement of 
Paris entered upon a struggle with the Government which led 
to the exile of many of the magistrates. Owing however to the 
imminence of the Polish Succession War the Court for the 
moment yielded to the demands of the Parlement, which con- 
tinued to discuss ecclesiastical matters. 

In 1733 the war of the Polish Succession broke out, nominally 
on account of the question of the Polish Succession. Stanislaus 
Leszczynski, the father of the French Queen, had in September 
been elected King of Poland, while in October Augustus II, 
the Russian and Austrian candidate, was elected ; France 
declared war in the same month upon Austria. France had 
already in September made the Treaty of Turin with Sardinia, 
and in November she arranged a family compact with Spain 


known as the Treaty of the Escurial. The importance of this 
treaty lies in the fact of the reunion of the two Bourbon Powers 
against England, though that fact was to some extent kept 
secret. They affirmed the eternal alliance of France and Spain, 
and France undertook to aid in the recovery of Gibraltar, while 
the fleets and armies of both countries were to act in concert. 

Till 1737 however both Powers were fully occupied in the 
war against Austria, at the close of which France gained the 
reversion, on the death of Stanislaus, of Lorraine, the Duke of 
which province was to receive Tuscany ; whilst Don Carlos, 
instead of Parma and Piacenza, was to receive the kingdom of 
the Two Sicilies and the Tuscan Presidencies. The Bourbon 
Powers had thus won a conspicuous triumph, and French 
diplomacy was evident in all parts of Europe. Unfortunately 
the French navy was in weak condition, and that fact probably 
decided Fleury not to join Spain in her war with England 
which broke out in 1739. 

On the outbreak of the war of the Austrian Succession 
France was in a strong position. There had been a revival of 
the commercial prosperity of France during the thirty years 
of peace with England, and under the pacific ministry of Fleury 
trade had vastly increased. The French East India Company 
had, since the time of Law's Land Bank speculations, 1 taken 
a fresh lease of life, and Pondicherry was flourishing. But 
already the rivalry of France and England was manifest both 
in India and in America, and in 1740 Labourdonnais was 
advocating to the French Government the destruction of all 
English trading factories in the East Indies. The design too 
of pushing down the valley of the Ohio in order to prevent the 
expansion of the English Colonies westwards was being seriously 
considered. " The greatest danger to England lay in the 
power of France, and that power for several generations had 
been rapidly increasing." 2 The Austrian Succession War 
illustrated the power of France (though its support of Charles 
Edward, the Young Pretender, proved unavailing), and justified 
the opinion of several observers that the affairs of France had 
been so completely re-established that " the French King is the 
master and arbiter of Europe." The war closed with the Peace of 
Aix-la-Chapelle (October 1748), which was obviously only a truce 
in the inevitable struggle between France and England on the 
sea, in India and in Canada. We will deal with India first. 

1 John Law, a Scotsman, had been made director of a new (French) Royal 
Bank in 1718 (v. p. 283). 

8 Lecky, History of England, vol. i, p. 356. 

F 5 


In accordance with the Treaty Dupleix restored Madras to 
the English, but he continued to prosecute his ambitious enter- 
prises among the natives, and to enter upon his great design 
the subjection of the Powers in India to French ascendency. 
As a matter of fact hostilities never ceased between the French 
and English East India Companies, the latter being represented 
by General Stringer Lawrence, who commanded the troops 
in Madras, and by Robert Clive. The years 1752-54 were the 
most eventful period in Indian history. In August 1752 
Lawrence relieved Trichinopoly, but in 1753 Clive was invalided 
to England, returning to Bombay two years later. Clive' s 
absence encouraged Dupleix to hope that he would be able to 
form a great confederation which would lead to the capture 
of Trichinopoly, to the overthrow of the English and the 
restoration of his own ascendency in the Carnatic. But already 
powerful influences in Paris were opposing him on the ground 
of his failure to reduce Trichinopoly, and the Company resented 
the suspension of their trade and the vast expense involved in 
the continuance of hostilities. The French Government too 
was anxious to conciliate England, and feared that the struggle 
in the Carnatic might lead to a European war. Consequently 
in 1754 Dupleix was recalled, being succeeded by Godeheu, 
who in December made a treaty with the English, sacrificing 
all his predecessor's conquests. At the same time the Governor 
of Madras informed the English Government that " the French 
influence with the country Powers far exceeded ours." After 
the outbreak of the Seven Years' War in 1756, and after the 
Black Hole massacre, Clive recovered Calcutta, and won the 
battle of Plassey in June 1757. Subsequent to Lally's failure 
to take Madras in 1759 the French were totally defeated at 
Wandewash by Sir Eyre Coote. At the close of 1760 all hope 
of establishing a strong French colony in India had vanished, 
though French settlements were by the Peace of Paris (1763) 
allowed ; no fortifications however were permitted. 

The Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle had come fortunately for 
England, as she was unable to check the victorious career of 
Saxe in the Netherlands, while in India Dumas, the Governor- 
General of the French East India Company, was showing great 
administrative ability, and a little later the efforts of Dupleix, 
as we have seen, gave France the ascendency over England. 
During the Austrian Succession War the English had captured 
Louisbourg in Cape Breton Island (Nova Scotia) a splendid 
fortress the possession of which made its owner " master of 
the entrance to the river which leads to New France." At the 


Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle the French recovered Cape Breton and 
Louisbourg, and in 1749 claimed the Ohio Valley. From that 
time till the opening of the Seven Years' War a state of warfare 
existed between the French and English East India Companies 
in India, and between the French and English colonists in 
America, where the important point in dispute related to the 
French attempt to secure the territory west of the Alleghanies, 
the possession of which would confine the English colonists to 
the coast settlements and would prevent any expansion west- 
wards. On the building by the French of Fort Duquesne on 
the disputed territory an English force was, without declaration 
of war, sent out under Braddock : upon which the French 
despatched 3,000 soldiers. Though two French ships, the Alcide 
and Lys, were captured by an English Admiral, Braddock 
suffered a severe defeat near Fort Duquesne in July 1755. 

At the close of 1755 war between England and France was 
inevitable. In May 1756 France and Austria made the Treaty 
of Versailles in reply to the Second Treaty of Westminster 
between England and Prussia in the previous January. " No- 
thing," it has been said, " could be more deplorable than the 
condition of England, and the years 1756 and 1757 were among 
the most humiliating in her history." l England had declared 
war on France on May 15, 1756, but for war she was apparently 
totally unprepared. In June the French took Minorca, while 
on the American Continent Montcalm captured Oswego in 
August. The Second Treaty of Versailles in May 1757 united 
still more closely France and Austria thus effecting an unex- 
pected revolution in European politics and in July D'Estrees 
defeated the Duke of Cumberland at Hastenbeck. But with 
the total defeat of the French by Frederick the Great at Ross- 
bach in November a complete change for the worse took place 
for France, for defeat followed defeat in Europe, in Canada, in 
India and on the sea. Wolfe took Quebeeton September 18, 1759, 
and by the close of 1760 all Canada was in English hands. In 
the same year the French fleets had suffered disastrous defeats 
at the hands of Boscawen and Hawke. Though Spain joined 
France in the famous Third Family Compact 2 in August 1761, 
all Choiseul's hopes of a change in the war operations favour- 
able to France were doomed to disappointment, and in February 
1763 the Peace ot Paris was signed. 

"It is almost certain," writes Mr. Egerton, " that but for 
the new spirit which entered upon the scene with Pitt, France 

1 Lecky, History of England, vol. ii, p. 452. 

2 I.e. Louis XV and Carlos III of Spain both Bourbons. 


would have, at least for the time, been successful in the struggle 
with England for the dominion of America." x Had Pitt not 
fallen from power in October 1761, France would have been 
forced to accept less acceptable terms than those offered her 
in 1763. As it was, she lost Minorca, the greater part of her 
Indian possessions, her Empire in America, and Senegal. She 
received however the Islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon, with 
the right of fishing on the Newfoundland Banks. Florida was 
ceded to England by Spain but Havana was restored to her, 
and France gave England Louisiana. In the following month 
Austria and Prussia made peace, Prussia retaining Silesia. 
Though at one time it had seemed as though Prussia must 
succumb owing to the alliance between Russia and Austria, 
the accession of Peter III to the Russian throne in January 
1762 closed the period of Russian hostility to Frederick, and 
on May 5 peace was made between the two monarchs. 

No sooner was the Seven Years' War ended than Choiseul 
at once began preparations for a war of revenge upon England. 
From the close of the Seven Years' War to his fall in 1770 
Choiseul was bent on avenging France for her losses in the 
above war. He had supported the suppression of the Jesuit 
Order in 1762 by the Parlement de Paris 9 whose ascendency 
continued throughout his ministry, and whose opposition to 
financial reforms justified its suppression in 1771. But though 
his sympathy with the Parlement deserves hostile criticism, his 
energy deserves commendation. He carried out valuable 
military and naval reforms, he specially improved the artillery, 
he built new ships all with the object of renewing the struggle 
with England on the first favourable opportunity. His foreign 
policy had the same object. Thus, he maintained the alliance 
with Austria and further strengthened it by arranging in 1770 
for the marriage of Marie Antoinette to Louis the Dauphin, 
afterwards Louis XVI. During his ministry France acquired 
Lorraine (in 1766) on the death of Stanislaus, and in 1768, a 
year before Napoleon was born, he arranged for the purchase 
of Corsica. 

In 1770 Choiseul had fully intended to join with Spain, 
which power had seized the Falkland Islands, in a war with 
England, but Louis was opposed to the idea of war, and on 
December 24 he was dismissed from office. A few years later 
however the help given by France to the Americans in their 
War of Independence and the position to which England was 
reduced at the close of that war seemed an ample compensation 
1 H. E. Egerton, Short History of British Colonial Policy, p. 165. 


for the loss of Canada in the Seven Years' War. The conclu- 
sion of the Treaty of Versailles in September 1783 marked the 
triumph of the policy of Vergennes and indeed of Choiseul. 

From 1771, when the Parlements were overthrown in conse- 
quence of their violent behaviour, the Government was in the 
hands of the Triumvirate Maupeou, Terray and D'Aiguillon 
who set up the Parlement Maupeou. The last years of 
Louis XV's reign saw the First Partition of Poland carried out, 
a revolution in Sweden the success of which was partly due 
to the efforts of Choiseul and Vergennes and the triumph of 
Gustavus III. On May 10, 1774 Louis XV died. 




THE transition from the feudal to the modern State was only 
effected in France by means of the Revolution of 1789. Within 
three years a new Constitution was drawn up, the whole of 
the ancient organisation of Society being destroyed. The 
policy of centralisation under Louis XIV had indeed been 
carried too far, and Richelieu while suppressing the nobles as 
a political power had allowed them to retain their privileges, 
such as immunity from taxation, the right to the gabelle or 
salt-tax, and the right to the corvee or forced-labour rents. 
These with sundry other privileges brought about a cleavage 
between the privileged and non-privileged classes. Owing to 
the rigid barriers between classes in France there was no real 
unity in the nation, while the Government remained highly 

The Church too had become a feudal and privileged insti- 
tution, with a censorship over the press. There was also a 
separation of interest between the higher and the lower clergy 
which manifested itself during the Revolution. The higher 
clergy were strongly opposed to independent thought, and 
their opposition was manifest during the reign of Louis XV. 
The death of Louis XIV had brought with it a sense of emanci- 
pation which showed itself in the outbreak of an intellectual 
revolt which preceded the later political revolt. That intel- 
lectual revolt was marked by the rise of a spirit of criticism 


and inquiry which owed much to the influence of England, 
and was first seen in the treatment of abstract questions by 
Montesquieu, Diderot and the Encyclopaedists. To the 
philosophers, who were the enemies of supernaturalism, the 
Church was especially odious. It suppressed the Encyclopaedia, 
it burnt " Emile," it brought about the execution of Galas and 
La Barre, it opposed toleration, and persecuted Protestants and 
Free-thinkers alike. Voltaire's " ecrasez Vinfdme " represented 
the opinion of most educated Frenchmen. 

The intellectual revolt however soon extended to political 
questions, and here the influence of Voltaire, the Physiocrats 
and Rousseau was clearly manifest. The doctrines of the 
Social Contract 1 aroused the deepest enthusiasm, as offering 
not only an explanation of the origin of society but as being 
an indictment of the French Government and a demand for a 
better treatment of the whole body of citizens. 

While the writings of Rousseau and others were sapping the 
absolute monarchy in France, the financial chaos into which 
the Government was steadily falling justifies the dictum that 
" the penny makes the Revolution." The accession of 
Louis XVI found France labouring under a deficit, and Turgot 
and Necker made strenuous attempts to place the country in 
a sound financial condition. Turgot's programme was an 
extensive one, but like the Emperor Joseph II he attempted 
to do too much in a short time. His proposed reforms raised 
many vested interests against him ; he quarrelled with the 
Parlement of Paris which Louis had re-established, and he 
was opposed by Marie Antoinette. Necker 's administration 
was for a time successful, but the entry of France into the 
American War increased her financial liabilities, though some 
little time after Necker' s fall in 1781 Calonne by means of 
excessive borrowings gave France the appearance of being 
financially in a sound position. But with the failure of his 
credit, the death early in 1787 of Vergennes, whose brilliant 
foreign policy had placed France in a leading position in 
Europe, the formation of the Triple Alliance of 1788 (England, 
Prussia and Holland), and the administration of Lomenie de 
Brienne, it was evident that France had rapidly declined 
politically and financially since the close of the War of 
American Independence, and was faced with bankruptcy. 

According to the French Constitution the legislative power 
resided in the Sovereign, and a representative assembly " was 
simply a council to give advice which might or might not be 

1 By J. J. Rousseau, 1762. 


accepted." No such representative Assembly had met since 
1614, and, owing to the centralised system under which France 
was governed, there were practically few who had any adequate 
experience of public affairs. Under the second administration 
of Necker the States-General met on May 5, 1789. The forma- 
tion of the Three Orders (Nobility, Clergy and Third Estate) 
into a National Assembly, the failure of the King to act firmly, 
and the fall of the Bastille, testified to the early success of the 
States-General, the meeting of which marked the transition 
from the feudal to the modern State and implied a revolution 
which within three years destroyed the whole of the ancient 
organisation of French Society. 

All authority had now passed to the Third Estate, the supre- 
macy of Paris in the Revolution being also established. The 
summer and autumn witnessed the progress of the revolutionary 
sentiment, the attempt of the Assembly to draw up a Consti- 
tution and the transference of the! King and Court from 
Versailles to Paris. Though admiring the American Revolution 
France was in no way affected by the American Constitution, 
which did not come into operation till March 1789. So France 
lost the benefit of the American experience. 

By the end of the year 1789 France found herself in a very 
different position from that in which she was when the year 
opened. Feudal privileges had been abolished, the King was 
only allowed a suspensive veto, a single representative Assembly 
had been decided upon, and in spite of Mirabeau's efforts a 
sharp distinction had been created between the executive and 
legislature. Church property had been appropriated for State 
uses and this was all the more necessary as taxes had ceased 
to be paid and the Government was without funds. In July 
1790 the subjection of the clergy to the State was secured by 
the Civil Constitution of the Clergy, whose allegiance to the 
Pope was consequently invalided. Instead of possessing an 
independent Church the French had now established a body 
of elected officials who received their salaries from the State. 
Consequently a serious schism arose in the Church which con- 
tinued till the rise of Napoleon. 

In their attitude towards the Church the Constituent Assembly 
had entirely ignored the principle of " Liberty, Equality and 
Fraternity," and especially Article 10 of their own Declaration 
of Rights, which stated that " no one may be interfered with 
on account of his opinions, even on the subject of religion." 
The Constituent Assembly also, by confiscating without in- 
demnity all Church property, had violated Article 17 of the 


Declaration of Rights, which stated that even if anyone, owing 
to public necessity, is deprived of his property, fair compensa- 
tion shall be paid. Moreover the Constituent Assembly 
ignored Article 6 of the Declaration of Rights by retaining a 
property qualification for voters. Thus the leaders of the 
Revolution and the Constituent Assembly failed to carry out 
the principles which they had so loudly proclaimed in 1789, 
being at that time entranced by Rousseau's assertion that all 
members of the community have equal rights, as society and 
government originated in a social contract. 

In 1790 the affair of Nootka Sound 1 had led the Govern- 
ment of Spain to hope for the aid of France in a war with 
England. But owing to Mirabeau's efforts the danger was 
averted in October. In 1791 the death of Mirabeau and the 
King's fruitless flight to Varennes still further weakened the 
monarchy, and all hopes of a peaceful future for France during 
which the country might settle down were destroyed by the 
dissolution of the Constituent Assembly on September 30, and 
by the meeting of the Legislative Assembly, composed, in 
accordance with a most absurd resolution, of men who had not 
been members of the Constituent Assembly. 

The new Assembly met at a critical moment in the history 
of Europe. The Emigres on the border of France were attempt- 
ing to raise an army, and as the attitude of the Emperor Leopold 
and, after his death on March 1, 1792, that of his successor 
Francis II was considered unsatisfactory, war was declared 
against Austria on April 20, and against Prussia on July 24. 
Till the beginning of September it seemed not unlikely that 
the Allies would invade France. Great excitement consequently 
prevailed in France ; the extreme party raised an insurrection, 
and on August 10 deposed Louis XVI and carried out the 
notorious September massacres. On September 20 the French 
National troops won over the Prussians the so-called battle of 
Valmy, which proved to be one of the decisive battles in the 
history of Europe. The whole character of the war changed. 
From being an old-fashioned war against Austria, it now 
became practically a war against all established governments. 
In October the French armies reached the Rhine, the provinces 
on the west of that river welcoming the invaders, while on 
November 6 Dumouriez won the battle of Jemmapes, occupied 
Belgium, declared the Schelde open and threatened Holland. 
It only required the Decrees of November 19 and December 15, 

1 A dispute between England and Spain over contested territory in Vancouver 
Island. Spain eventually gave way. 


calling on all nations to rise, and the execution of Louis XVI 
on January 21, 1793, to unite all Europe against France, which 
declared war on England and Holland on February 1 and on 
Spain in March. 

Robespierre and the Jacobins, who had not approved of the 
declaration of war against Austria in 1792, now favoured the 
outbreak of a general European war, overthrew the Girondists 
at the end of May and, amid the " Reign of Terror," established 
the Government of the Committee of Public Safety. By 1794 
general success attended the French arms. The victory at 
Fleurus in June 1794 established the French in Belgium ; Spain 
was invaded, the King of Sardinia was defeated, and in Decem- 
ber Holland was conquered. During these years the attention 
of Prussia, and to some extent of Austria, had been diverted 
to Poland, partitions of which took place in September 1793 
and January 1795, while in France the feeling that, her safety 
from invasion being secured, the government of the Committee 
of Public Safety and the Reign of Terror were no longer neces- 
sary had led to the overthrow and death on the scaffold of 
Robespierre (July 27, 1794). 

In 1795 the Treaties of Basle were made with Prussia, Holland, 
Sweden, Spain and certain German States, France remaining 
at war with England, Austria and Sardinia, while in France 
the Directory was established in power and governed France 
with the aid of two elected Councils till 1799. Between those 
years hostilities continued without cessation by sea and land. 
In spite of the defeat of the French navy by our own on June 1, 
1794, the Directory in 1796, anticipating some of the later 
designs of Napoleon, made elaborate preparations for sending 
troops to India to aid Tippoo Sahib, and for the invasion of 
Ireland with a large force and of England with a smaller. 
All these plans ended in failure, a force of 1,500 men who landed 
in Pembrokeshire in February 1797 having to surrender to 
Lord Cawdor. 

The Italian expedition under the young General Napoleon 
Bonaparte (born 1769) was, on the other hand, entirely success- 
ful. Aided by the withdrawal of the English fleet from the 
Mediterranean in November 1796 (Spain having declared war 
upon England in October), Bonaparte conquered all North 
Italy and forced the Austrians to sign the Preliminaries of 
Leoben (Styria) on April 18, 1797. Negotiations continued 
during the summer and early autumn, the Habsburgs hoping 
" that the internal difficulties in France would clog her diplo- 


There was some ground for the Austrian expectation of a 
rising in France against the Directory, for during the early 
months of the year the Clichian or Constitutional party, which 
desired a constitutional monarchy, had strengthened itself in 
the Assembly, and struggles took place between the Consti- 
tutionalists and Revolutionists. In the early autumn Barras, 
the leading revolutionist, appealed to Bonaparte, who sent 
Augereau and 2,000 men to Paris, by whose aid the revolution 
of 18 Fructidor, which resulted in the crushing of the 
Council of Ancients and of the " Five Hundred " by the Direc- 
tory, was carried out. The first result of this revolution was 
the conclusion on October 17 of the Peace of Campo Formio 
between Austria and France, the latter gaining Belgium and 
the Ionian Islands. 

After the Peace of Campo Formio was signed in 1797, the 
terms of which clearly indicated Napoleon's interest in the 
East, Britain remained the only opponent of France ; and 
her navy, her colonies, her position in India and her wealth 
made her indeed a formidable opponent of the French Republic. 
Moreover she was as ever a refuge for the French royalists and 
for all the enemies of the Directory. Consequently an attack 
upon England was projected, and Napoleon was appointed to 
the command. That the danger of invasion was realised in 
England is shown by the organisation in Kent and other countries 
of local forces under the clergy, etc., of the various parishes. 
But Napoleon early in 1798 realised that, owing to the demora- 
lisation of the French fleet consequent upon the revolution of 
1789, an invasion of England was impossible. If however the 
English fleet could be lured into the Mediterranean owing to 
a French occupation of Egypt an attack on London was within 
the bounds of possibility. 

The idea of an occupation of Egypt had been entertained 
by Leibnitz in the days of Louis XIV, who however was too 
much occupied with his projects in Western Europe to antici- 
pate the action of Napoleon. Choiseul, the most prominent 
statesman in Louis XV s reign, had seized Minorca and medi- 
tated upon the conquest of the Nile Valley. Napoleon indeed 
had from his youthful days been impressed by the mystery of 
the East, and regarded the campaign of 1797 as the first step 
towards the realisation of his wish to lead a French army to 
India, and in alliance with the Mahrattas to expel the English 
from that land. 

He had no little difficulty in securing the sanction to his 
project of the Directors, who were eventually not unwilling 


to see Napoleon actively engaged on an expedition which 
would ensure his absence from France for an indefinite time. 
His well-known saying is worth noting : " Do you think," he 
had asked Miot in 1797, " that I triumph in Italy in order 
to make the greatness of the lawyers of the Directory ? " 
In 1797 " the pear was not ripe," though the coup cTttat of 
Fructidor had placed the control of France in the hands of a 
weak and corrupt Government. 

The immediate invasion of England being hopeless, and the 
Directory having by means of the exaction of some million 
francs from Rome and Switzerland supplied the necessary 
funds, Napoleon sailed from Toulon on May 19, 1798, and, 
having taken Malta, landed in Egypt at the beginning of July. 
After inflicting a crushing defeat on the Mamelukes near the 
Pyramids, he reached Cairo. But his plans were now com- 
pletely altered by the destruction of his fleet on August 1 in 
Abu Qir Bay by Nelson, and by the declaration of war by Turkey 
a month later. Napoleon therefore, having visited Suez and 
Mount Sinai, determined to conquer Syria, deliver the popu- 
lation from Turkish rule and make the country a convenient 
base for further eastern operations. His failure to take Acre 
in March 1799 necessitated a rapid retreat to Egypt, where he 
heard of the expulsion of the French from Italy in the war of 
the Second Coalition. He at once determined to return to 
France, where the late events had severely shaken the corrupt 
Government of the Directory. 

Ever since the 18 Fructidor (1797), when the Directory 
entered upon the second period of its administration, it had 
become steadily more and more unpopular. This was due 
partly to its intolerance, partly to its inefficiency. After the 
Fructidor Revolution it had endeavoured to bring about 
the total suppression of Catholicism, by the enforcement of the 
" Decadi " to take the place of the Sunday and by seizing every 
opportunity of deporting the priests from the country. Thus 
Frenchmen were deprived of religious liberty. At the same 
time no order was kept in France, and brigands infested the 
highways. Moreover the attempted enforcement of a loan in 
June 1799 resulted in the cessation of all business on the 
Bourse in Paris, and in a panic among merchants and bankers. 
While France internally was in this state of disorder and 
anarchy the foreign policy of the Directors had suffered a 
severe blow. In the War of the Second Coalition in 1799 the 
French had been defeated by Suv6rov and his Russian forces 
and driven out of Italy, General Joubert being killed. On 


September 20 the Directory wrote to Napoleon urging him 
to return. But he had already heard of the events in France, 
and having inflicted a severe defeat upon a Turkish army which 
had landed in Abu Qir Bay, Napoleon, leaving his forces under 
the command of Kle"ber, returned to France, landing at Saint 
Raphael on October 9. His journey to Paris was simply a 
triumphant progress, for all men hoped that his return implied 
the defeat of the enemy and the establishment of peace and 
order in France. 

The failure of Napoleon's original object in the Egyptian 
Expedition must not blind us to the fact that that expedition 
was followed by valuable results for the inhabitants, for 
Napoleon, it is truly said, " introduced Egypt to the methods 
of a civilised government, and Europe to the scientific study 
of the ancient monuments and language of the Nile Valley." 
Moreover he never seems to have abandoned his Eastern pro- 
jects, and after Tilsit returned to them with increased ardour. 
The universal welcome which he received in France on his 
return was followed by the coup d'etat of 18 and 19 Brumaire, 
in which the Directory was overthrown, and by the establish- 
ment of the Consulate. 

[The Republican Year 1 was that between September 22, 
1792 and September 21, 1793, both days inclusive. The 
months, each of thirty days, were known as Vendemiaire, 
Brumaire, Frimaire ; Nivose, Pluviose, Ventose ; Germinal, 
Floreal, Prairial ; Messidor, Thermidor, Fructidor. The re- 
maining five or six days in each year were Republican feast- 





THE Consulate which was established after Brumaire in 1799 
lasted four years, during which everything pointed to the 
absolutism of Napoleon. The constitution of the Consulate 
was a remarkable illustration of the skill of Sieves as a consti- 
tution-monger. According to his plan there were to be four 


bodies a Council of State to initiate laws, a Tribunate to 
discuss them, a Legislative body to accept or reject them and 
a Senate with power to veto any laws which should affect the 
Constitution. Two Consuls were to wield the executive power, 
and a Great Elector to be above them. 

Before however the Constitution could be put into force, 
and before Napoleon had a secure position, it was necessary to 
bring the War of the Second Coalition to an end. Russia 
having retired, only Austria and England remained under arms, 
and on June 4, 1800 Genoa, which had been defended by 
Massena, capitulated. However on June 14 the crushing 
defeat of the Austrians at Marengo by Napoleon's army gave 
the French all Italy west of the Mincio. Moreau's victory 
over the Austrians at Hohenlinden on December 3 was followed 
on February 9, 1801 by the Treaty of Luneville, which marked 
the beginning of the end of the Holy Roman Empire. The 
eastern frontier of France was to be the Rhine, and the Batavian, 
Helvetic and Cisalpine Republics were recognised by Article 11. 
Holland was however to be evacuated by French troops as 
soon as the war with England came to an end, and this impor- 
tant undertaking was repeated in a Franco-Dutch Convention 
of August 29, 1801. 

The Treaty was for Italy of great importance, for it ejected 
the Austrians from Central Italy, and was a step towards the 
unification of that country. Roads and bridges were made, 
a single civil and criminal code was used, and gradually a sense 
of nationality awoke. In the Treaty too the principle of 
secularising the German bishoprics was recognised. 

Austria having retired from the war, England alone remained 
in arms against France. In attempting to crush England 
Napoleon anticipated his later policy. In December 1800 the 
Armed Neutrality of the Northern Powers Russia, Prussia, 
Denmark and Sweden had been renewed to protest against 
England's right to search neutrals. Paul I of Russia was the 
chief member of the League, and was allied with Napoleon, 
who supported this attack on British commerce. But the 
battle of Copenhagen, followed by the death of Paul in March 
1801, destroyed the League. Napoleon's second aim was to 
occupy the South of Italy with 15,000 troops and thus to 
facilitate communication with Egypt. The Treaty of Florence 
between the King of Naples and Napoleon in March proved 
useless, as in that month Abercromby defeated in decisive 
fashion the French army in Egypt at Alexandria. Napoleon 
had also instigated Spain to attack Portugal. But on June 6 


the war was closed by the Treaty of Badajoz, and Portugal 
refused to close her ports to English commerce. 

All Napoleon's plans had failed. The sea-power of England 
had dispersed the Northern Coalition, had reduced Egypt to 
submission, and had retained control of the Mediterranean, 
with the result that on October 1 preliminaries of peace were 
signed, while on the following day came the news of the sur- 
render of the French Army in Egypt. On March 25, 1802 the 
Peace of Amiens was concluded ; it was in every way favour- 
able to Napoleon, there being no protest against a French 
Lombardy, a French Piedmont, or the occupation by French 
troops of Holland with regard to which the English negotiators 
depended upon Napoleon's undertaking in the Treaty of Lun- 
ville to withdraw from Holland as soon as peace with England 
was concluded. England gave up all her conquests except 
Ceylon and Trinidad, but Napoleon had to postpone his Eastern 
schemes for a few years. The Peace of Amiens was obviously 
merely a truce, but it gave Napoleon an opportunity to settle 
finally the religious question in France, the Concordat being 
proclaimed in April, and to arrange that he should be appointed 
First Consul for life (May). 

As First Consul Napoleon, having crushed Austria and made 
peace with England, became supreme in France. While he 
restored to France an efficient government, he never ceased 
devising schemes for undermining the English position in 
India. The weakness of our representatives during the negotia- 
tions at Amiens and the character of the ministry of Addington 
fully justified him in believing that, no matter how often he 
broke the terms of the Treaty, he had nothing to fear from 
Great Britain. Having re-established the Catholic Church in 
France he put in force the Civil Code (or " Code Napoleon ") 
which was " founded upon the principles of Toleration and 
Equity." It holds a position of great importance in the history 
of civilisation, registering and perpetuating as it does the 
enormous social improvements which the French Revolution 
had introduced into Europe. 

All his plans for the defeat of England, to be followed by 
the supremacy of France in the Mediterranean and India, were 
however doomed to failure owing to the successes of Wellesley 
in India and to his own inability to understand the British 
nature. (The same inability was as late as the summer of 
1914 seen in the case of the German Emperor and his advisers.) 
Napoleon decided that the weak government of Addington, 
whose representatives agreed to the Peace of Amiens, would 


not resent his failure to adhere to the terms of that Treaty, his 
determination not to relax the commercial duties upon English 
goods, and his refusal to agree to a commercial treaty. Early 
in 1802 his agents had stirred up discontent in Ireland, and 
before 1802 closed he had annexed Piedmont, Parma and 
Piacenza, while Ney in October occupied Switzerland. 

Moreover he never ceased his preparations for a final blow 
at Great Britain, for the establishment of colonies on the 
American Continent, for securing French supremacy in the 
Mediterranean and for the execution of his Eastern projects. 
Early in 1803 an expedition was sent to India ; but what 
specially roused public opinion in England was the publication 
in the Moniteur of January 30 of Colonel Sebastiani's report 
of his mission to Eastern Europe, in which he indicated the 
ease with which Egypt might be reoccupied. Consequently, 
faced by Napoleon's open hostility, the English Government 
was fully justified in refusing to relinquish its hold upon Malta, 
especially as Napoleon had refused to recall the French troops 
from Holland. His famous interviews with Lord Whitworth 
showed clearly that he was taken by surprise at the attitude 
of England, which he declared should be invaded. On May 16, 
1803 Great Britain declared war, and the struggle opened which 
was only finally concluded at Waterloo in 1815. 

Already before the war began several important events had 
happened in Europe, the chief being the reconstitution of 
Germany, which was secularised and Protestantised by the 
Diet at Ratisbon (Regensburg) on February 25, 1803. Thus 
definitely began the revolution in Germany, which saw in June 
1806 the creation of the Confederation of the Rhine, the mem- 
bers of which looked upon the French Emperor as their chief. 
On August 6, 1806 the Holy Roman Empire came to an end 
and the Emperor Francis became the Emperor of Austria. 
In the great wars in which Napoleon was involved this revolu- 
tion gave him incalculable help, for from 1805, when he attacked 
the Third Coalition, he was able to use troops from Bavaria 
and the other States which formed the Confederation of the 
Rhine. It was not till shortly before the battle of Leipzig in 
1813 that the majority of the States comprising the Confedera- 
tion of the Rhine, headed by Bavaria, deserted him. 

In 1803 and 1804 England was however the only Power 
with which he was at war. Hanover and Naples were at once 
occupied by French troops, San Domingo, which had been 
reconquered in 1802, was left to the Negro Government, and 
all efforts were concentrated on elaborate preparations for the 


invasion of England. In 1804 Napoleon made a great political 
blunder in seizing and executing the Due d'Enghien, 1 in con- 
sequence of which the Russian ambassador left Paris. In May 
Napoleon became Emperor of the French by a Decree of the 
Senate, which was ratified at the Elections in November. 

To Napoleon the invasion of England seemed quite possible. 
In 1805 a powerful army was established on the coasts of the 
Channel, mainly round Boulogne, and a number of flat-bottomed 
boats were ordered. But the Emperor could not secure the 
mastery of the English Channel, for at that time the French 
fleet, such as it was, was partly scattered, partly blockaded in 
Brest Harbour by Admiral Cornwallis. Before however any 
attempt at the invasion of England could be made Austria 
and Sweden had in July decided to join Russia and England 
in the Third Coalition, and Napoleon's only method left of 
subduing England was by means of a continental blockade. 

In September the Grand Army swept like a whirlwind into 
Germany, forced Mack, the Austrian general, to capitulate at 
Ulm, and defeated the Russians and Austrians on December 2 
in the battle of Austerlitz. Prussia, which had pursued a 
vacillating policy, was forced to agree on December 15 to the 
Treaty of Schonbrunn supplemented by a Treaty on February 15 
the following year, losing Cleves and Anspach but receiving 
possession of Hanover ; while on December 26 Austria signed 
the Treaty of Pressburg, losing the Tirol, part of Swabia, Venice, 
Istria and Dalmatia. Meanwhile on October 21 the French 
and Spanish fleets had been utterly defeated in the battle of 
Trafalgar, and England was safe from any attack by sea. 

In the war just closed with Austria the total absence of any 
national feeling in Germany was clearly apparent, Napoleon 
receiving assistance from such States as Bavaria and Wurttem- 
berg, the rulers of both obtaining the title of king. In fact, 
until after the Moscow Campaign in 1812 the only evidence 
of any national feeling in Germany was seen in Austria during 
the war of 1809. Consequently it may be said that Napoleon's 
overthrow of Austria in 1805 and of Prussia in 1806 was most 
beneficial to both States. In February 1806 Napoleon estab- 
lished his brother Joseph as King of Naples, and in June his 
brother Louis as King of Holland. The settlement of Germany, 
as Napoleon hoped, was completed by the formation of the 
Confederation of the Rhine in July under his protection ; this 
included among other States Bavaria, Baden, Wurttemberg 

1 Son of the Prince of Conde, and suspected, on very meagre grounds, of 
plotting against Napoleon. 


and Hesse Darmstadt. On August 6 the German Revolution 
was formally closed by the renunciation by Francis II of Austria 
of the title of Holy Roman Emperor. 

Meanwhile Napoleon was hoping to receive Sicily from the 
Whig Government of England, and thus to strengthen his 
position in the Mediterranean with a view to the execution of 
his Eastern projects. An English force had however in July 
defeated Regnier in the battle of Maida, and the English con- 
tinued to hold Sicily. Before Napoleon could take any action 
in the Mediterranean Prussia, resenting the offer of Hanover 
which Napoleon had made to the English Government, declared 
war, only to suffer a total defeat on October 14 at Jena and 
Auerstedt, and to lose Berlin, which Napoleon entered later 
in the month. From that city he issued his famous Berlin 
Decree against English commerce, followed at the end of the 
succeeding year, in reply to the bombardment of Copenhagen 
in the previous September, by the Milan Decrees. 

Meanwhile the remains of the Prussian army had joined the 
Russians, and a famous campaign was entered upon in 1807 
by Napoleon, who, having won a decisive victory in the battle 
of Friedland, found Alexander, who was deeply irritated at the 
lethargic character of the English Government, ready to treat. 
By the Treaties of Tilsit the two monarchs combined to domin- 
ate Europe, Alexander agreeing to help to carry out the 
continental blockade. Thus Napoleon was left free to use his 
best endeavour to exclude the English from the Mediterranean 
and so to forward his Eastern schemes. 

Up to this time his conquests had in reality benefited Europe, 
which required to be forced to adopt reforms and to set its 
house in order. But in Napoleon's eyes all his conquests were 
but the preparatory step leading to the execution of his Eastern 
plans, which involved the overthrow of England. From this 
time onwards he made a series of colossal blunders which were 
not fully apparent to Europe till 1813. One was his anti-papal 
policy. Pius VII had refused to join in an offensive war against 
England ; in 1808 Rome was occupied by a French force ; in 
1809 Pius was imprisoned at Savona, and was not again in 
Rome till 1814. This blunder on the part of Napoleon had 
been preceded by a still more important one, namely the 
deposition of Charles IV of Spain and his son in favour of his 
own brother Joseph in May 1808. 

These acts had been preceded in December 1807 by the 
arrival of Junot in Lisbon, only to find that the royal family 
had sailed to South America. In the previous month Napoleon 

F 6 


had visited Italy to make preparations for securing the com- 
mand of the Mediterranean. To carry into effect this project 
the complete subservience of Spain was absolutely necessary. 
Had he, on the resignation of Charles IV, recognised his son 
Ferdinand as king, it is quite possible that for a time at least 
the Mediterranean might have been closed to English ships. 
But his action at Bayonne in forcing upon Spain his brother 
Joseph as king may be said definitely to mark the turning-point 
in his career. He had made a blunder which he was never 
able to rectify. Unlike Germany, Spain was a nation, and was 
held by the tie of religion " a religion, fierce, ignorant and 
intolerant." Moreover the latent feeling of patriotism rapidly 
arose after the Bayonne interview. 

On July 20 Joseph the new King of Spain arrived in Madrid. 
On July 22 the French General Dupont capitulated at Baylen 
to a Spanish force, and a national rising of the Spaniards took 
place. On July 28 Joseph, who had already warned Napoleon 
of the difficulties involved in an attempt to subdue Spain, left 
Madrid, and on August 30 the Convention of Cintra resulted in 
the removal of Junot and his army from Spain. 

A French army could not reach Spain before October, and 
in the meantime, to reassure himself of his position in Ger- 
many, Napoleon met Alexander at the famous Conference of 
Erfurt In September and October. Alexander refused to leave 
Prussia at Napoleon's mercy, and thus the Spanish Rising 
44 saved Prussia from virtual extinction." In November and 
December Napoleon was in Spain, but hearing of the warlike 
preparations of Austria, and of the intrigues in Paris of Fouche 
and Talleyrand, he left to Soult the task of pursuing Sir John 
Moore to Corunna and reached Paris on January 23, 1809. 

Hostilities with Austria began in the spring of 1809, Austria 
representing the new patriotic spirit which was already per- 
vading Germany. Her failure at the battle of Wagram 
(July 6) was followed some weeks later by the Treaty of Vienna 
(October 14) which deprived Austria of Trieste and the Tirol. 
Had Napoleon proceeded to Spain between November 1809 
and March 1810 the history of the Spanish Rising would have 
been very different from what it was. His decision not to 
conduct personally the campaign in Spain may be regarded as 
a turning-point in his career and in that of the French Empire. 

In April 1810, having divorced Josephine (Beauharnais), 
he married Marie Louise of Austria, thus, as he thought, 
strengthening himself in Germany, and enabling him, whilst 
carrying out active operations in Spain by means of his 



Longitude* Ecust of Greawidij 


Stanfords Geographical, Kftaib* 

London: Hodd_er &- St,ouht,otj. Ltd.. 


generals, to devote himself to the extension of the Continental 
System and thus to force Great Britain to come to terms. 
Between the close of 1810 and the middle of 1812 the period 
was, it is said, "the calmest enjoyed by the French nation 
since the Consulate." 

In 1810 then Napoleon had apparently good reason to hope 
that England would shortly yield. On August 5 a severe 
decree was passed against English smuggling (though colonial 
goods could be admitted) and was enforced as far as possible 
by French troops who filled the Prussian ports and those of 
Liibeck and Hamburg. By an Order of August 18 Oldenburg 
was included, Napoleon justifying his action on the ground 
that such measures were the only ones which would destroy 
Great Britain. On October 19 all British goods were ordered 
to be publicly burnt, and on December 10 Napoleon sent a 
message to the Senate announcing the annexation of the Hansa 
Towns and of all the region between them and Holland, includ- 
ing Oldenburg. 




THE Emperor had now overreached himself, for on December 31, 
1810 appeared an Edict from the Tsar Alexander modifying 
his adhesion to the Continental System. Napoleon was furious. 
" This was the leak," he said, " which was sinking the ship." 
Napoleon accepted the Tsar's attitude as a direct menace to 
France, and hostilities were now inevitable, Russia's abandon- 
ment of the Continental System being the real ground of the 
war of 1812. On June 23, 1812 Napoleon set out from Paris 
on his well-known Moscow expedition. On October 15 he 
retired from Moscow and on December 3 he left the shattered 
remains of his Grande Arme*e and returned to Paris, having 
lost 300,000 men. The Russians advanced into Germany, and 
on February 28, 1813 the Treaty of Kalisz was made between 
the Tsar and the King of Prussia. Napoleon however soon col- 
lected another army, and the War of Liberation opened. Having 
defeated but not destroyed the Allied armies at Liitzen on 
May 2 and at Bautzen on May 20, he agreed to the Armistice 
of Pleswitz, which was to continue from June 4 to August 10. 
Jomini declares that in agreeing to an armistice Napoleon 


41 made the greatest mistake in his military career." As things 
turned out this assertion cannot be disputed, but as things were 
on June 4 Napoleon's action can be defended. He had not 
destroyed the Allied army, which had retreated in the direc- 
tion of the Austrian frontier. His cavalry required recon- 
struction, and he expected some 12,000 cavalry from Spain. 
Furthermore both Hamburg and Dresden required to be 
fortified and strengthened. Moreover he now had an excellent 
opportunity of concluding a satisfactory arrangement with 
Austria, the result of which would have been the defeat of 
Russia and Prussia. He refused however to accept the terms 
proposed by Austria, being absolutely confident in his ability 
to defeat the three great military Powers (Russia, Prussia and 
Austria) and to reconquer Spain. 

His overweening confidence, in spite of the English victory 
at Vittoria on June 21 and Wellington's invasion of France, 
proved the salvation of Europe. On August 10 hostilities 
again began, Napoleon with his quarters at Dresden being faced 
by the Austrian, Russian and Prussian troops. After one 
success (at Dresden) against the Austrians, defeat followed 
defeat, and his disasters culminated at the battle of Leipzig 
in October (16-19). Had the Allies pressed on, Europe would 
have been spared the Campaign of 1814 in France. As it was, 
Napoleon was able to make a most brilliant defence, and it 
was not till his defeat at Arcis-sur-Aube on March 20 that his 
cause was lost a letter in which he proposed to deceive the 
Allies having been opportunely found. On March 31 the 
Allies entered Paris ; on April 6 Napoleon abdicated ; on 
May 30 the Treaty of Paris was signed by Louis XVIII, 1 and 
Napoleon was sent to Elba. 

In the autumn of 1814 the Congress of Vienna met to recon- 
struct Europe, and owing to a dispute with the King of Prussia, 
who wished to annex all Saxony, war almost broke out among 
the Allies. That danger being averted, the settlement of 
Europe was proceeded with. Suddenly Napoleon on February 
26, 1815 escaped from Elba, Louis XVIII fled, and Napoleon 
reached Fontainebleau on March 20. 

In the famous Waterloo campaign Napoleon showed great 
military skill. His object was to force his way between the 
armies of Bliicher and Wellington and then to defeat each in 
detail. On June 15 he defeated the Prussian army at Ligny, 
whilst at Quatre Bras Ney prevented a junction between 
Wellington and Bliicher. On June 18 the Battle of Waterloo 

1 Brother of Louis XVI. 


was fought, and the arrival BO unexpected by Napoleon of 
Blticher helped the English and Germans to win a decisive 
victory. On June 22 Napoleon abdicated at Paris and took 
refuge on board the Bellerophon, being shortly afterwards taken 
to St. Helena ; here he died on May 25, 1821. 





THE reign of Louis XVIII marks a most unattractive period 
in French history. We enter, it has been well said, upon " a 
kind of political wonderland where topsy-turvy dom prevails," * 
France was divided between the Royalists, the Revolutionists, 
and the Bonapartists. On July 8, 1815 Louis re-entered Paris 
with the Allies. Talleyrand became First Minister, the other 
important offices being held by Fouche, Gouvion St. Cyr, 
Pasquier and Baron Louis. The general arrangements for the 
government of the country which Napoleon had made were 
not interfered with, and the Code Napoleon remained untouched. 
Acts of severity against the chief participators in " the Hundred 
Days " were followed in the summer by the " White Terror," 
which was the name given to the savage warfare in the South 
of France conducted by the Royalists against the Bonapartists 
and the Jacobins. Fouche was dismissed in September, in 
which month it was evident that the elections had resulted 
in favour of the Royalists. Talleyrand's ministry in conse- 
quence resigned, and it was succeeded by that of the Due de 
Richelieu, a patriotic man who was a personal friend of the 
Tsar, and in whose ministry Decazes was Minister of Police. 

On November 20, 1815 the Second Peace of Paris was signed. 
By this treaty France lost territory, had to pay an enormous 
indemnity, was excluded from the Concert of Europe, and was 
forced to support for five years a large army of occupation. 
Meanwhile France was to remain under the surveillance of the 
Great Powers. The execution of Ney on December 7 was in 

1 J. R. Moreton Macdonald, A History of France, vol. iii, p. 253. London : 
Methuen & Co. 


no sense a political act, but simply the punishment for treachery. 
With it the year closed with France governed (owing to the 
condition of the franchise) by a violent reactionary monarchy. 
Richelieu had no option but to pursue a balancing policy, at 
first a difficult task owing to the severe laws passed by the 
reactionary party. Its tyrannous acts and blood-thirsty 
excesses had however roused throughout the country such 
opposition that Louis, by the advice of Decazes and without the 
knowledge of the Comte d' Artois, the leader of the reactionaries, 
dissolved the Chamber of Deputies on September 5, 1816. 
The verdict of the elections was a blow to the Royalists, the 
majority of the new members holding moderate opinions but 
supporting the King. Richelieu and Decazes remained in 
power, the last-named being in favour of a course of liberal 
administration, though by a measure passed in February 1817 
a new electoral law restricted the electorate to about 100,000 

In 1818 Richelieu at the Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle secured 
the retirement of the foreign garrison from France, as well as 
that of the Committee of the Powers which since 1815 had sat in 
Paris. On December 28 on his return from the Congress Richelieu 
retired from office and was succeeded by General Dessolles, 
whose chief colleagues were Decazes, Gouvion St. Cyr, Baron 
Louis and De Serre. This ministry was weakened from its 
formation by a division in its ranks as to the policy to be 
pursued. Dessolles, Saint Cyr and Louis favoured a strong 
liberal policy, while Decazes desired only a moderate liberal 
policy. France seemed to be falling into a condition which 
would justify the intervention of the Allies. At this crisis in 
the internal affairs of France the Due de Berry, second son of 
the Comte d' Artois (later Charles X), was attacked in Paris 
on February 13, 1820 and killed. The Ultras at once attri- 
buted the murder to the late liberal legislation, the ministry fell, 
Richelieu formed his second ministry, and the elections held 
in the autumn of 1820 resulted in the return of a large Royalist 
majority. On December 12, 1821 Richelieu resigned and was 
succeeded by Villele, who headed a strong Royalist ministry. 
Plots were severely repressed, the Press was muzzled and 
there was a decided political and religious reaction. Moreover 
Louis XVIII vastly pleased the Ultras by accepting the pro- 
posal made at the Congress of Verona that France should 
intervene in Spain. Villele had at Verona refused to break 
with Spain, but when Louis declared war on January 28, 1823 
he accepted the position. By September the war was ended, 


and Ferdinand of Spain was able to re-establish an absolute 

On August 16, 1824 Louis XVIII died, leaving the Bourbon 
monarchy by no means firmly established in the affections of 
the French nation. He was succeeded by his brother as 
Charles X, who as Comte d'Artois had fled from France in July 
1789 and in vain had attempted to persuade the rulers of other 
countries to restore by force of arms the ancien regime. On 
his accession he found Paris the literary and artistic centre of 
France. The nation was weary of strife and accepted the 
quiet accession of Charles with pleasure, if not with enthusiasm. 

Charles X has often been compared to James II of England* 
He was just as short-sighted and bigoted and held similar 
absolutist ideas. His short reign was not marked by any 
attempt to carry out a constitutional policy. So far from 
recognising the meaning to France of the Revolution of 1789 
and of the Empire, he made no secret of his intention to 
restore the ancien regime. A few months after his accession the 
Emigres were compensated and the Church was rehabilitated, 
with the result that it became closely united to the Bourbon 
dynasty. In fact it might almost be said that the ancien regime 
was restored ; at the close of 1826 indeed a severe measure 
to check the freedom of the Press was brought forward, 
which however was not passed Paris on its rejection being 

Meanwhile exciting events were taking place in consequence 
of the Greek Insurrection, and on October 20, 1827 the French 
and English fleets won the battle of Navarino over the Turko- 
Egyptian fleet of Ibrahim Pasha, the news being received with 
enthusiasm in France. In November the dissolution of the 
Chamber of Deputies was followed by the election of a large 
body of men opposed to Villele, who in January 1828 retired, 
being succeeded by M. de Martignac ; the immediate duty of 
the latter was to pacify the country, which was urged to revolt 
by the Liberals, by Paris, and the Press. His policy of con- 
ciliation pleased neither the King nor the Liberals, a large 
section of whom yearned for an active and brilliant foreign 
policy which should secure for France the Rhine boundary. In 
August 1829 the Duke of Polignac, an incapable and obstinate 
man, formed a ministry on Royalist and reactionary lines. 
Though he favoured an active foreign policy and intervened in 
Algiers, his policy was so criticised that Charles appealed to 
the country. But after the elections in May Charles dissolved 
the New Chamber before it met, and issued his famous ordin- 


ances altering the electoral law, annulling the recent elections 
and suspending the freedom of the Press. Ever since the 
appointment of Polignac the French Liberals had been pre- 
paring for a struggle, and in the National, edited by Thiers, the 
possibility of a change of dynasty had been hinted at. 

On July 27, 1830 the Revolution of Three Days began and, 
too late, Charles realised the folly of his policy. In August 
he arrived in England, having formally abdicated in favour of 
the Due d' Orleans, 1 who as Louis Philippe accepted the crown, 
his accession representing the definite triumph of the Revolu- 
tion of 1789 over the ancien regime, and the establishment of 
a government of compromise. 

The abdication of Charles X marked the third and final 
downfall of the Bourbons, and left France in a position not 
unlike that of England when James II fled to France. In both 
countries government by divine right had come to an end. 
The Revolution of 1830 was in striking contrast to that of 1789, 
and there were no signs of the repetition of the Terror. The 
majority of the French people desired neither an absolutism 
nor a republic. A limited monarchy under Louis Philippe of 
Orleans was therefore set up, and though the first ten years 
of his reign were marked by political and social unrest it was 
not till 1840 that signs of the coming overthrow of the Orleans 
monarchy definitely began to appear. 

One of the first results of the revolution in France and the 
accession of Louis Philippe was the outbreak of a revolution 
in Belgium. Emissaries of the French Radical party had 
intrigued with the extreme opponents of the Dutch rule, and 
on August 25, 1830 the first rising took place in Brussels. 
Shortly afterwards most of the leading towns in Belgium acted 
likewise, and by the end of October reconciliation with the 
King of Holland was impossible. On December 20 a Congress 
in London of the chief European Powers recognised the inde- 
pendence of Belgium. In the following year Prince Leopold 
of Saxe-Coburg was selected as King, upon whom King William 
of Holland at once declared war. The arrival of French troops 
soon ended the campaign, but it was not till 1839 that William 
recognised Belgian independence. 

The first ten years of Louis Philippe's reign witnessed in 
Western Europe vast industrial and economic changes which 
resulted in France in numerous strikes and an attempted 
insurrection in Paris in May 1835. After frequent ministerial 

1 Son of Philippe Egalite (executed 1793) of the Orleanist branch of the 
Bourbons, which had branched off in Philippe of Orleans, son of Louis XIII 


changes France enjoyed two years of peace at home and abroad, 
first under the ministry of Guizot (1836 to March 1837), and 
then under his colleague Count Mole, whose skill as an oppor- 
tunist was remarkable. Under this ministry the railway system 
was developed, the finances were placed on a sound footing, 
and general prosperity prevailed, while diplomatic successes in 
Greece, in Italy, and especially in Belgium, whose independence 
and neutrality were secured in 1839, testified to the ability of 
Mole in the Foreign Office. Moreover the French occupation 
of Constantine in October 1837 foreshadowed the later estab- 
lishment of France in Algiers. Guizot and Thiers meanwhile 
united in the determination to bring about the fall of the Mole 
ministry which, they asserted, represented the personal govern- 
ment of Louis Philippe. The elections of March 1839 resulted 
in a defeat of the Government, and after an interval of two 
months, during which an insurrection which foreshadowed that 
of 1848 was suppressed, Marshal Soult formed a ministry, which 
was succeeded by that of Thiers in March 1840. 

Meanwhile Russia, Austria and Prussia had formed a League 
at Miinchengratz in June 1833 to resist the liberal tendencies 
of England and France, which countries, supported by Spain 
and Portugal, formed a Quadruple Alliance. This division of 
the European Powers did not continue for many years, for in 
1839 and 1840 France opposed the coercion of Mehemet Ali 
by Russia, England, Austria and Prussia; but the Egyptian 
ruler was compelled nevertheless to withdraw from Syria and 
content himself with Egypt. 

Thiers, previous to his formation of a ministry in March 
1840, had intrigued with Mehemet, and in consequence of the 
Treaty of July 15 settling the Egyptian question he made 
preparations for a popular war against England. Louis Philippe 
however refused to be drawn into such a war. Thiers fell, 
and a new ministry was formed, nominally under Soult (who 
retired in 1847) though Guizot was the chief member. The 
ministry of Thiers in 1840 had heralded the Republic of 1848. 
While in Mole's hands the foreign policy of France had been 
marked by success, under Thiers it had proved a failure, and 
it contributed greatly to the fall of the dynasty. 

The continuance of the alliance with England was of the first 
importance, but during Guizot's supremacy after 1840 the 
English friendship was lost, and at the opening of 1848 France 
was in a position of isolation in Europe. The arrest by the 
French admiral of the English Consul at Tahiti in March 1844 
had indeed been followed in September by a visit of Louis 


Philippe to England, but in 1846 England was finally alienated 
by the action of the French Government with regard to the 
Spanish marriages. Meanwhile Guizot's general policy of 
peace and no reforms had not satisfied the French nation ; on 
February 21, 1848 a reform banquet was suppressed in Paris, 
and on the following day a revolution broke out in Paris which 
led to the abdication of Louis Philippe on February 25. 

The whole system of Guizot's Cabinet has been described by 
a Deputy as " Nothing, Nothing, Nothing." That policy did 
not commend itself to any portion of the French people, and 
thus led to Guizot's fall and the flight of Louis Philippe. 
Lamartine's administration, the rising of the Red Republicans 
in May and June and Cavaignac's Presidency each in turn failed 
to satisfy the French nation. Constitutional monarchy and 
middle-class government followed by republican administra- 
tion had been tried in vain, with the result that the supporters 
of order concurred in the election of Napoleon, 1 who represented 
the brilliant successes of his uncle the First Napoleon and who 
became President on December 10, 1848. It had become 
apparent as early as May 1848, when the elections were held, 
that France did not desire socialism, the supporters of which 
were defeated after three days' fighting in Paris. In 1850 and 
1851 it became equally apparent that the Provinces desired the 
establishment of order, and were strongly in favour of Napoleon. 
On the night of December 2, 1851 a coup d'etat took place. 
Many of the statesmen and generals in Paris were arrested in 
their beds, some 235 representatives of the people were cast 
into prison, and in January 1852 a new constitution was pro- 
mulgated, all executive power being entrusted to the President, 
who was responsible to the people and in whom alone lay the 
right of initiative. Fear of anarchy had thus led to an almost 
universal wish to give another Napoleon supreme power. 



ON December 1, 1852 Napoleon was proclaimed Emperor at 

Saint- Cloud and entered Paris the following day. During the 

next ten years France occupied a leading place among European 

1 Son of Louis Bonaparte, King of Holland (1806-1810). 


monarchies in consequence of the part she played in the Crimean 
War, one result of which was to relegate Russia into a secondary 
position. The revival of the rights of the Latin Church in 
Jerusalem had been supported in France in 1850 and had 
roused the resentment of the orthodox Tsar, though by the 
Treaty of 1740 between France and Turkey the French were 
guarantors of the Latin interests. Napoleon showed no wish 
to push matters to an extreme point, and it was only after the 
Tsar's provocative attitude to Turkey, the despatch of Russian 
troops over the Pruth, and the sinking of the Turkish fleet 
off Sinope on November 30, 1853, that the Allied fleets entered 
the Black Sea. The French Government, acting in harmony 
with that of England, declared war in March 1854, and for two 
years hostilities continued, the French army especially dis- 
tinguishing itself by the capture of the Malakoff . 

It has been said that " if the Crimean War had never been 
fought the two subsequent decades of the century would not 
have seen the formation of a United Italy and a United Ger- 
many." The Peace of Paris in 1856 had closed the Crimean 
War, in which through the influence of Cavour the Italians had 
taken part. Italy had been represented by Cavour at the 
Congress of Paris. What was clearly evident after the close 
of the Congress was that Austria was isolated, that the Great 
Powers were favourably inclined towards Italy, and that the 
foremost position in Europe was held by France, which was 
regarded as the most formidable of continental nations. 

Though Napoleon sympathised with the spirit of nationality 
which was daily becoming more apparent in Italy, many reasons 
caused him to hesitate before taking up the cause of Piedmont. 
Cavour' s policy was clearly antagonistic to that of Rome, and 
religious France represented by the Empress was strongly 
opposed to any quarrel with the Pope. 

Moreover the idea of the consolidation of Italy was not 
popular in France as being unfavourable to French interests, 
which would be better served by the existence of weak neigh- 
bours. " Tell Walewski in confidence," Napoleon however 
had said to Cavour in Paris, " what you think I can do for 
Italy," and after the Congress was over he added, " I have 
a conviction that peace will not last long." These words may 
have meant little when uttered by a man so habitually irresolute 
as was Napoleon. Cavour however was encouraged, and 
early in 1857 the Societe" Nationale Italienne was formed to 
advocate the Italian cause in Lombardy and even in Venetia, 
and to influence the Press throughout Europe. On January 14, 


1858 an Italian conspirator named Orsini, who had made his 
plans in London, attempted to assassinate Napoleon in Paris. 
To the astonishment of Europe the relations between France 
and Sardinia were not broken off, and in June Napoleon and 
Cavour had a secret meeting at Plombieres, where they re- 
arranged the map of Italy. That meeting, in which he was 
in reality influenced by Cavour, can be compared with a meeting 
at Biarritz a few years later, when he thought he had won 
over Bismarck to his views. 

On January 1, 1859 Napoleon informed Hiibner the Austrian 
Ambassador that the relations of France and Austria were not 
so good as before. On April 26 Austria sent an ultimatum to 
Sardinia and war ensued with France, Napoleon intending 
to secure a free but not a United Italy. He was willing that 
Piedmont should extend from the Alps to the Adriatic, but he 
had no wish to interfere in Central or Southern Italy. As 
compensation for his assistance he was to receive Savoy and 
Nice. The idea of a strong and united Italy was not favoured 
by Napoleon nor by the French nation. The campaign was 
short and decisive. The victorious battles of Montebello, 
Palestro, Magenta and Solferino were fought in May and June, 
and on July 11 the war ended with the Armistice of Villafranca. 
The spread of sickness amongst his troops and the hostile attitude 
of Prussia probably contributed to Napoleon's sudden decision to 
end the war. Lombardy was handed over to Piedmont, and 
he arranged that the Italian States should be formed into a 
confederation under the honorary presidency of the Pope. 
For the moment Napoleon did not insist on annexing Savoy 
and Nice. It is said that Napoleon rose to his zenith when he 
signed the famous Treaty of Villafranca. In fighting for an 
idea which appealed to liberal Europe he had defeated a strong 
military power and he had shown moderation in victory. 
Never had he stood in such a striking position. During the 
past eleven years he had shown himself a successful ruler, 
France had played a notable part in the Crimean War, and he 
had now freed Italy and seen Lombardy (exclusive of Mantua 
and Peschiera) annexed to the kingdom of Sardinia. 

The object for which Napoleon entered the war had been ac- 
complished ; but the prospect of a United Italy had never been 
entertained by him. The Italian States, in his opinion, would 
now be formed into " a Confederation under the honorary 
presidency of the Pope." But he soon found himself unable 
to check the movement for a United Italy, and " in Italy," to 
quote the striking language of M. de la Gorce, "the fate of the 


Second Empire was sealed." Central Italy at once refused to 
take back its old rulers, and soon threw in its lot with Sar- 
dinia, while the invasion of Sicily by Garibaldi, followed later 
by the invasion of Romagna by the Sardinian army, brought 
utter discomfiture to the Emperor's diplomacy. The English 
Cabinet urged that Italy should be left to settle its own affairs, 
for French intervention would have endangered the good 
relations of France with Great Britain which the Emperor was 
so anxious to maintain. Napoleon, too, had not the courage 
to insist that Sardinia should carry out the arrangements made 
at Villafranca, and in order to cover the discomfiture of his 
policy he annexed Savoy and Nice, the incorporation of which 
into France, though agreed to at Villafranca, increased his 
difficulties, for it alienated the Italians, destroyed the goodwill 
of the English people and aroused their suspicions. 

What still further added to his anxieties was the invasion of 
the Roman Provinces by the Sardinian army and the subse- 
quent defeat of a force commanded by a French officer, General 
Lamoriciere. Thus, though but a little more than a year had 
passed since the Armistice of Villafranca had been arranged, 
the year 1861 saw the programme then drawn up completely 
annulled. In February 1861 Victor Emmanuel was proclaimed 
King of Italy, and the idea of Italian federation under the Pope 
had disappeared. 

The victories of Magenta and Solferino had thus been followed 
by diplomatic disaster, the effect of which was to weaken the 
Emperor's authority in France, where the Catholics and Con- 
servatives, strengthened by the influence of the Empress, 
warmly supported the Papal government. While the Pope 
complained of the loss of his territory the Italians complained 
that, owing to the Emperor's attitude, they could not give 
United Italy Rome as her capital, and the leaders of the small 
but powerful Liberal party in France pointed out that Napoleon 
was posing as the champion of liberty in Italy while governing 
autocratically in France. " You cannot," said M. Pichon in 
the French Chamber, " be revolutionary in Italy and remain 
conservative at home." 

Already however the Emperor seems to have realised the 
inconsistency of his policy in Italy and France, for on Novem- 
ber 24, 1860 he allowed the Legislature some liberty of dis- 
cussion by a Decree which has been called the foundation-stone 
of V Empire Liberal. A year later he surrendered his right of 
" opening supplementary credits when the Legislature was not 
sitting." Though he often disregarded his promise, still his 


concession had yielded up the power of the purse, and his not 
infrequent disregard of his surrender of it afforded opportunities 
to the Opposition leaders which they did not hesitate to seize. 
The General Election of 1863 gave France a Liberal party. 
Every constituency in Paris was won by the Liberals, and the 
elections, in the words of M. de Morny, " had left the Emperor 
and the democracy face to face." That democracy was for- 
midable enough, owing to the ability of its leaders, who had 
no hesitation in criticising and, if necessary, in thwarting the 
Emperor's policy. 

Moreover in the latter part of 1863 France was deeply 
involved in the Mexican campaign 5,000 miles from home. 
Mexico, the capital, had been occupied by a French army in 
June, in order to induce the country to accept the Austrian 
Archduke Maximilian l as their ruler and Emperor. He shortly 
afterwards landed at Vera Cruz in June 1864. This Imperial 
adventure would, it was hoped by Napoleon, check the Teutonic 
Republic of the North and prevent the American Continent 
from falling definitely under the commercial control of New 
York and the political influence of Washington. Napoleon's 
position at home made it necessary for him to show immediate 
results in the critical eyes of Paris. As it was, the expedition 
to Mexico proved a disastrous failure, and while events of 
deep significance were taking place in Europe a valuable French 
army was " locked up " in Mexico. Its absence during the 
years 1866 and 1867 had a very important effect upon Napoleon's 
foreign policy. 

The year 1863 was not only a notable one in the change of 
the attitude of the French nation towards Napoleon ; it also 
marked the failure of his foreign policy, while the failure of 
the Mexican expedition was not apparent till 1867. In January 
1863 an insurrection broke out in Poland, which not only was 
suppressed with great cruelty but led to a defensive Treaty 
between Russia and Prussia. France had always taken a 
keen interest in the cause of Poland, but Napoleon realised 
that by championing the Poles he would alienate Russia, whose 
friendship had enabled him to undertake the Italian War and 
to annex Savoy and Nice. 

Napoleon's true policy should have led him to ignore the 
excitement in Paris for Poland was inaccessible and to 
refrain from doing anything. As it was, the notes which the 
French and British Governments sent to St. Petersburg had 
not only no effect in aiding the cause of the Poles but lost to 

1 Brother of the Emperor Francis Joseph. 


Napoleon the friendship of Russia. Moreover, as, in spite of 
the excitement in France which followed Russia's refusal to 
discuss the Polish question, Napoleon refused to embark single- 
handed upon a war with the Tsar, the discredit into which he 
had already fallen was increased. 

Before the year closed the Schleswig-Holstein " affair " 
occupied the attention of Europe. A close understanding 
between England, France and Russia might have prevented 
the solution of that question to the advantage of Prussia. But 
Napoleon, embittered by his failure in the Polish question, had 
no intention of running any further risks. On December 24 
the troops of the Germanic Confederation entered Altona 
(Hamburg), and a situation was created which produced highly 
important but at the time unforeseen results. 

Apparently Napoleon had regarded the Danish question as 
one of secondary importance, for on November 4 he had issued 
invitations to a Congress at Paris which he hoped would result 
in the readjustment of the frontiers of States to the advantage 
of France, and restore his reputation, already shaken by his 
Italian and Polish policy. The proposed Congress never met, 
and it became evident within a few years that his true policy 
should have been to make an agreement with Great Britain 
as to the question of the Danish Duchies. The year 1863, 
with Napoleon's decision not to interfere in the Danish ques- 
tion, marks not only the first stage of Bismarck's policy of 
bringing about the Prussian supremacy in Northern Germany 
but also a definite stage in the decline of the French 

The defence of Napoleon's inaction lies in the fact that his 
intervention in the Polish question had somewhat discredited 
him, and with the Mexican War on his hands it was only to 
be expected that a man of his character would shrink from 
incurring fresh responsibilities. 

Of course he could not in 1863 realise that the fate of the 
Second Empire had been sealed in Italy, or foresee that its 
grave would be dug in Mexico. As Great Britain early in 1864 
informed the Russian Government that she had no intention of 
interfering on behalf of Denmark, Austria and Prussia were 
enabled to annex Schleswig and Holstein without any fear of 
the intervention of Great Britain, France or Russia. 

44 The great crime of the eighteenth century was the partition 
of Poland, which neither France nor England knew how to 
prevent. The great blunder of the nineteenth century was the 
spoliation of the Danish Duchies, which neither France nor 


England nor Russia knew how to prevent." 1 Such represents 
the view of all historians and politicians who have studied the 
history of Modern Europe. Meanwhile discontent with the 
governmental machine had showed itself in France. A general 
election held in May and June 1863 had resulted in the forma- 
tion of an Opposition of some thirty-five members, among whom 
were Thiers, Jules Favre, Jules Simon, Ernest Picard and 
Berryer. Concessions were indeed made to the Opposition, 
which was far from being revolutionary, but the continual 
failure of the Emperor's foreign policy alienated an increasing 
number of men of all parties. Relations with England were 
strained, Russia had been alienated, the Danish question had 
been mismanaged. In a word, French prestige abroad had 
steadily declined. The criticisms of Thiers and Jules Favre 
on French foreign policy were unanswerable, and were justified 
by the events of 1866 and 1867. 

The Convention of Gastein on August 14, 1865 postponed 
the inevitable struggle between Prussia and Austria, and 
Bismarck at once used the lull to secure the neutrality of 
France and the friendship of Italy. Thus when war broke out 
Austria would be isolated. In October Bismarck visited 
Napoleon at Biarritz and secured the neutrality of France in 
the event of an Austro-Prussian war. What actually took 
place at the interview at Biarritz is not known, but it would 
seem that Napoleon, influenced by the failure of the French 
expedition to Mexico, wished to strengthen his position by 
some success in foreign policy. The outbreak of war between 
Prussia and Austria, which latter he thought was the stronger 
of the two, would enable him to act as umpire, obtaining for 
his services some territory. Secured on the side of France, 
Bismarck arranged an alliance with Italy in April 1866. 
Napoleon then urged Italy, but in vain, to remain neutral 
during an Austro-Prussian war, and his proposal of a European 
Congress met with like failure. 

On July 3 at Koniggratz (Sadowa) the Prussians won a 
decisive battle over the Austrians, and the Emperor Francis 
Joseph asked Napoleon to intervene, arranging to cede Venice. 
From this moment Napoleon's difficulties became serious. 
During the negotiations at Nikolsburg (after Koniggratz) 
between Austria and Prussia, Benedetti on behalf of France 
demanded Mainz and a portion of the left bank of the Rhine. 
On Bismarck's refusal war seemed not unlikely to break out. 
But with her best troops in Mexico, France had no army with 

1 Quarterly Review, April 1917, p. 399. 


which to enforce her demands, which were accordingly waived. 
Nevertheless to satisfy public opinion in France Napoleon 
persisted in looking for some compensation. After the Italian 
War in 1859 he had secured Savoy and Nice : he therefore 
expected after the Austro-Prussian War to obtain some terri- 
tory. But the position in 1866 and 1867 was very different 
from that of 1859. In 1859 he had contributed to the victory 
of Italy : in 1866 he had in a very indirect manner by neutrality 
aided Prussia in her contest with Austria. Moreover the 
national spirit in North Germany in 1866 was far stronger than 
that in Italy in 1859, and the question of sacrificing any German 
territory was unlikely to be entertained for a single moment. 

The conclusion of the Peace of Prague on August 3, 1866 
found all parties in France discontented with the late train 
of events. National jealousy of Prussia's successes was clearly 
apparent, and to many Germans an outbreak of war with 
France within the near future seemed certain. For the moment 
however Bismarck was anxious to postpone war with France, 
and he professed himself ready to negotiate with Napoleon 
regarding the acquisition of Luxembourg by France, or the 
union of Belgium to France as compensation for the attainment 
of German unity. Though the Belgium project was not 
persevered in a serious attempt was made to annex Luxembourg, 
" the road to Brussels in default of Belgium itself." As the 
negotiations proceeded the agitation in Berlin increased, and 
in April 1867 war seemed imminent between France and the 
North German Confederation. At this crisis Russia and Great 
Britain intervened, and a Conference met in London on May 7, 

It was then agreed that the neutrality of the Grand Duchy 
of Luxembourg should be guaranteed, and that the Prussian 
troops should withdraw from the fortress-capital, the fortifica- 
tions of which should be dismantled. Prussia therefore 
evacuated the fortress, and France withdrew her scheme for 
the purchase of Luxembourg which was by treaty neutralised. 
Thus Napoleon's hope of " the friendly connivance of Prussia 
for an occupation of Luxembourg and an invasion of Belgium " 
had been rudely dispelled, as had been his earlier dream of the 
possession of Mainz and a portion of the left bank of the Rhine. 
These diplomatic failures were all in great measure due to the 
absence in Mexico of a large portion of the French army, which 
did not return to France till the spring of 1867. As it was, 
the Conference of the Powers in London in May established 
harmony between France and Prussia, and during May and 

F 7 


June the Tsar, the King of Prussia and Bismarck visited Paris, 
where the Great Exhibition had been opened. The events of 
the years 1866 and 1867 manifested the truth of the following : 
' Sans armee, point de diplomatic, point de succes, point 
d'honneur au dehors, point de securite au dedans." 

Thus by the end of May 1867 and with the opening of the 
Paris Exhibition Europe could breathe again. But on June 30 
the news arrived that the Emperor Maximilian had been shot 
at Queretaro in Mexico, and in the same month a Parisian jury 
practically acquitted the Pole Berezowski who had shot at the 
Tsar Alexander their decision destroying Napoleon's hope of 
a renewal of close and friendly relations between France and 
Russia. Moreover in July the Prussian Government declined 
to consider Napoleon's proposal to discuss the position of the 
population in Holstein and Schleswig. For a short time how- 
ever it seemed that a Triple Alliance between France, Austria 
and Italy might be formed, and Napoleon's visit to Salzburg 
in August to meet Francis Joseph, followed in October by a 
visit of the Austrian Emperor to Paris, justified the belief. 
The latter however made an alliance with Napoleon depend 
upon the inclusion of Italy. An alliance between France and 
Italy could however only be obtained by the abandonment 
by Napoleon of the cause of the Pope. In 1864, when Italy 
was the only possible ally for France in Europe, Napoleon had 
on September 15 concluded a convention with Victor 
Emmanuel II, arranging for the withdrawal of French troops 
from Rome within two years. That withdrawal was now 
accomplished in December 1866. 

The September Convention of 1864 had led to an attack on 
the French Government by Pius IX, who was vigorously 
supported by the French Bishops and the French Catholics 
generally. Unfortunately for France, Garibaldi in 1867 seized 
the opportunity afforded by the departure of the French troops, 
and in September marched an army into the States of the 
Church. His action roused a violent explosion of anger among 
the French Catholics, and Napoleon bowed before the storm. 
French troops left Toulon for Italy in October and on Novem- 
ber 3 inflicted an overwhelming defeat upon Garibaldi's army 
at Mentana, the victory being followed by a declaration on 
December 4 by Rouher, the French Prime Minister, that " Italy 
should never take Rome." 

Simultaneously with the French expedition to Italy the 
power of the newly reconstituted Republican party in France 
manifested itself, and during the first six months of 1868 the 


Press Law was simplified and public meetings were to some 
extent permitted. On May 30, 1868 the first number of La 
Lanterne, published by Henri Rochefort, appeared, and the 
existence of a strong and uncompromising opposition to the 
Empire had to be recognised. The elections held in May 1869 
showed the rapid growth of the Republican party in France. 
But though he agreed to " the creation of a responsible 
ministry," Napoleon shrank from becoming a constitutional 
monarch, and continued to place his trust in Rouher. Had it 
not been for the moderating influence of the bourgeoisie, a 
revolution followed by the impeachment of the Emperor might 
have taken place. In January 1870 Emile Olivier formed a 
ministry which he hoped would prove a " barrier on the road 
to revolution." In May an appeal was made to the country, 
which by a large majority supported the Imperial dynasty. 
During the next ten weeks however foreign affairs occupied 
the chief attention of the Government, the importance of the 
formation of a Triple Alliance being recognised : for since 
1868 the men at the head of affairs in both France and Germany 
had realised that war might break out at any time. During 
1868 the anti-Prussian feeling in France had been as apparent 
as the anti-French feeling in Germany, where in some quarters 
the idea of the recovery of Alsace and Lorraine made itself 
felt. In December 1868 the French Government had endea- 
voured to secure control of two Belgian railways ; but this 
project was openly opposed in the Belgian Second Chamber, 
and drew from the British Government a declaration that " the 
independence of Belgium was an object of the first interest to 
the British people." 


' / 


TILL August 1870 there seemed a chance of an alliance being 
formed between France, Austria and Italy, for discussions 
with a view to such an alliance had proceeded during 1869, 
and it seemed possible that France, Austria and Italy might 
combine for the protection of Europe against Prussia. But 
Napoleon's refusal to withdraw from Rome wrecked all chance 
of a Triple Alliance, and the truth of M. de la Gorce's utterance 


that in Italy the fate of the Second Empire was sealed was 
now apparent. That its grave was dug in Mexico is no less 
true, while by his alienation of Prussia over the Polish question 
and of England over the Schleswig-Holstein affair Napoleon 
had steadily weakened his position in Europe. In 1869 the 
negotiations between France, Austria and Italy had become 
known in Berlin, and Bismarck, in reply, supported the Hohen- 
zollern candidate Prince Leopold in his candidature for the 
throne of Spain. The abandonment of that candidature at the 
instance of France was brought about by the influence of King 
William on July 12, and Olivier was satisfied that peace would 
be preserved. But Napoleon and Gramont demanded through 
their Ambassador Benedetti an assurance from the King of 
Prussia that he would not permit the renewal of the Hohen- 
zollern candidature. The account of Benedetti' s interview with 
the King and the history of the Ems telegram, fraudulently 
altered by Bismarck, are well known. Bismarck's opportunity 
had come, and on July 14 war was declared by France. 

Napoleon and Gramont continued to expect the co-operation 
of Austria and Italy, while an offensive movement by French 
troops into Germany had been planned by Marshal Lebreuf. 
But Napoleon in July and even as late as August 1 refused 
absolutely to recognise the occupation of Rome by the Italians. 
All hope of an alliance with Austria and Italy had therefore to 
be abandoned, and France entered the war without allies. 

The German army was ready far readier than the French 
and dealt France a series of crushing blows at Spicheren 
(August 6), Worth (August 6), Mars-la-Tour (August 16) and 
Gravelotte (August 18) the latter action driving back Marshal 
Bazaine with some 180,000 troops into Metz. Marshal Mac- 
Mahon collected an army at Chalons, and marched to the relief 
of Bazaine ; but he was driven northwards against the Belgian 
frontier at Sedan ; and on September 2 Napoleon and Mac- 
Mahon's army were prisoners in the hands of the Prussians. 

The news of the capitulation of Sedan reached Paris on 
September 3, and on September 4 a Provisional Government 
of National Defence was formed which included Jules Favre, 
Gambetta, Jules Simon, Picard and General Trochu the 
latter of whom acted as President of the Council of Ministers 
and Governor of Paris. 

The People's War however had now begun, and continued 
for five months, much to the astonishment of Moltke, who had 
expected the early fall of Paris and little or no resistance in 
the Provinces. 


On September 12 Thiers, who had refused to join the Govern- 
ment of September 4, left Paris to visit England, Austria and 
Russia in order if possible to secure European intervention. 
On October 21 he returned to Tours, having entirely failed in 
his efforts, only to find that Italy had refused to intervene, and 
that the situation in France was more serious than when he 
started on his journey. For the efforts of Jules Favre to 
secure an armistice had failed. Toul and Strasbourg fell before 
the end of September, and the fourteenth German Corps under 
v. Werder spread over Burgundy and Franche-Comte, taking 
Dijon and investing Belfort. Meanwhile the defence of Paris was 
being organised by Trochu, while owing to Gambetta's influence 
every available man was summoned from Africa, old soldiers 
were called up, and a levee-en-masse was decreed. The French 
nation was thoroughly roused, and in almost every province 
was to be found the nucleus of an armed force. 

Unfortunately for France at this critical moment when the 
position of the Germans was strategically unsafe, Bazainc 
and the army of Metz capitulated on October 27, just at a 
moment when it was of the most vital importance to detain 
the German army around the walls of the town. Thus the 
200,000 German troops who composed the first and second 
armies were released, and while the seventh corps of the first 
army marched to effect the reduction of Thionville and Mont- 
medy, the second army marched to Paris. 

Its arrival was, from the German point of view, most oppor- 
tune, for Gambetta, who had escaped to Tours from Paris in 
a balloon on October 9, had organised an army of some 180,000 
men which under Aurelle de Paladines and Chanzy had defeated 
von der Tann on November 9 at Coulmiers and had driven the 
Germans out of Orleans. But no important result followed, 
though an immediate advance on Paris might have compelled 
v. Moltke to raise the siege. Attempts by the French to relieve 
Paris failed on November 28 and December 2, and on Decem- 
ber 4 the Germans, reinforced by the army of Prince Friedrich 
Karl, again occupied Orleans. 

The last stage in the campaign now opened with the French 
Government established at Bordeaux. Gambetta still hoped 
to rescue Paris, but the organisation of the Army of the Loire 
had been broken up, though General Chanzy had succeeded 
in rallying a portion of the force at Beaugency, south of Orleans. 
Meanwhile a sortie from Paris organised by Ducrot on Decem- 
ber 4 had failed, its failure coinciding with the fall of Orleans. 

Nevertheless the efforts of Gambetta, ably seconded by de 


Freycinet and Chanzy, never ceased. New forces were created, 
fresh plans of offence elaborated; Aurelle was dismissed, his 
place at the head of the forces south of the Loire being taken 
by Bourbaki at one time the Chief of the Imperial Guard 
while Chanzy north of the Loire fought a series of indecisive 
battles ending however with his retreat, owing to the failure 
of Bourbaki to prevent a German corps south of the Loire from 
menacing his rear. Nevertheless Chanzy remained determined 
to continue his attempts to reach Paris, and by December 20 
he had placed his army in a strong position at Le Mans. 

Meanwhile Faidherbe had advanced from the fortresses on 
the Somme, and after an indecisive battle on the Hallue, a 
tributary of the Somme, had safely retired into Artois. After 
a pause in the theatre of war Chanzy urged that the three pro- 
vincial armies under Faidherbe, Bourbaki and himself should 
make a simultaneous attempt to relieve Paris. According to 
his plan, while he moved towards Saint-Germain, Faidherbe 
was to advance to Saint-Denis, and Bourbaki from above 
Orleans against the German forces on the south and east of 
Paris. This plan, whether it succeeded or not, was true strategy 
and illustrates the military ability of Chanzy. Gambetta 
however, as he did after the battle of Coulmiers, again inter- 
fered, would not adopt Chanzy 's advice, and determined to 
send Bourbaki's army south to relieve Belfort. In this fatal 
decision Gambetta had been supported by Freycinet and 
Serres, a young civil engineer, and in the battle of the Lisaine, 
January 15-17, " the fate of France was sealed." 

The design of Gambetta was in many ways an attractive 
one the relief of Belfort and an attack on the German com- 
munications in Alsace. But Bourbaki's army was unequal 
to the task, while its departure south enabled Prince Friedrich 
Karl and the Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin to unite 
and attack Chanzy and Faidherbe in turn. On January 12 the 
German armies defeated Chanzy and captured Le Mans, and 
on January 19 inflicted a severe defeat near Saint-Quentin upon 

The fall of Paris was now inevitable, and after a last sortie 
on January 19 nothing remained but surrender. On January 28 
the Germans granted a local armistice of three weeks, during 
which the National Assembly might be elected and decide on 
peace or the continuance of the war. 

During those three weeks France suffered her final disaster 
in the field, for early in January v. Manteuffel at the head of 
a strong army had marched south and joined Werder, then 


in pursuit of Bourbaki's broken army. At this crisis Clinchant, 
who, owing to Bourbaki's illness, had succeeded to the com- 
mand of the French troops, found himself in danger of being 
surrounded by the German armies, and on February 2 his 
army, now reduced to 90,000 men, reached neutral territory 
across the Swiss border. One writer has happily termed this 
catastrophe " the Sedan of the second part of the war." 

The German triumph in the war was largely due to the 
decision, energy and scientific skill of Moltke, to the marked 
ability shown by Prince Friedrich Karl and to the masterly 
strategy of Manteuffel. Had Bazaine held out for but a few 
weeks longer the difficulties of the Germans would have been 
enormously increased. Gambetta would have had time to 
organise a national rising in France, and Chanzy, who, like 
Wellington, showed such a remarkable genius for defence, 
would, with the assistance of able generals like Faidherbe, have 
at any rate secured for France far easier terms than she obtained 
at Frankfort. 

Meanwhile on January 18 King William of Prussia had, in 
the Galerie des Glaces at Versailles, been proclaimed German 
Emperor. Paris had surrendered, the city only escaping a 
German occupation by the payment of a heavy sum of money. 
At Bordeaux Gambetta fiercely demanded a continuance of 
the war, but finding little support he resigned and departed 
to Spain. 

The elections showed unmistakably that the country desired 
peace, and Thiers, who was on February 17 appointed Chief 
of the Executive, met Bismarck at Versailles on February 21. 
As a result of the negotiations the Germans obtained Alsace 
and German Lorraine with Metz, but, largely owing to the 
efforts of Thiers, France retained Belfort. She had however 
to pay an indemnity of 200,000,000 and to allow the German 
occupation of that quarter of Paris known as the Champs Elysees 
until the terms had been ratified. 

This ratification was executed by the Assembly on March 1, 
and the Champs Elysees quarter was only occupied by German 
troops from March 1 to March 3. It was not till May 20 
that the definitive Treaty of Frankfort was signed by Jules 
Favre and Pouyer-Quertier on behalf of France. The terms 
of that Treaty were more severe than those of the Preliminaries 
of Versailles, and this increase of severity was due to the situa- 
tion in Paris of which Bismarck took full advantage. For 
from the beginning of March Paris had been the scene of a 
violent Communist rising, and early in April Paris was again 


besieged but this time by the French Government. The 
Revolutionaries were headed by Delescluze and Felix Pyat, 
the Hotel de Ville and the Tuileries were destroyed, the Arch- 
bishop of Paris was murdered, and numerous other atrocities 
were committed. It was not till May 28 that the insurrection 
was entirely suppressed and the Communist leaders shot. The 
suppression of the Commune and the Treaty of Frankfort left 
France free, it is true, to establish a stable government and 
gradually to recover her position in Europe : but the days of 
Monarchy were over, and the future was dark. 




THE position of France after a disastrous war and a peace 
dictated by the enemy was bound to be distressing. She had 
lost two of her richest provinces : events were to prove that 
they were infinitely richer than was supposed in 1871 ; for the 
vast mineral wealth of Lorraine and Upper Alsace was not 
fully realised till some years after the Peace of Frankfort. 
This was fortunate for France ; for it is hardly likely that 
Germany, in the hour of victory, would have left her enemy in 
possession of the larger portion of what was to become the 
most important ironfield of the world had she been aware of 
its potential value. 

With Alsace and Lorraine France had lost a million and a 
half of population. Her direct loss of men during the war 
by death, wounds and sickness was not short of half a million, 
while her indirect loss was considerably greater. The pecuniary 
cost of the war could not be reckoned at less than 500,000,000 
sterling, and France had further agreed to pay to Germany a 
war indemnity of five milliards of francs. Her military system 
was dislocated and discredited as a result of the war, and the 
state of her finances was alarming. Such was the material 
damage. Great as it was however the moral damage inflicted 
on her was even greater. The military operations had been 
uniformly disastrous to her, and had shattered her tradition of 
military prowess and grievously wounded the national self- 
esteem. The episode of the Commune had revealed internal 
weakness, and was an ugly display of dissension in the face of 
the enemy. If she looked abroad France could find no comfort. 
Napoleon Ill's schemes for alliances had proved unavailing ; 
no friendly hand had been stretched out to France in her 
calamity ; not even diplomatic pressure had been brought to 
her assistance. She had been, and remained, completely 



isolated in Europe. Finally the internal position was obscure. 
In 1815 France after her defeat had accepted a Government 
which whatever its faults had commanded respect in the 
European Chancelleries, and was in point of fact the special 
proUg6 of the Powers. In 1871 it was soon to become clear 
that no such restoration was possible ; and for years France 
did not even dare to apply a name to the form of government 
set up. The ambiguity of the constitutional position, the 
doubts and difficulties with which that question was beset, were 
destined to hamper the process of recovery and to detract 
from the European prestige of France for a good many years 
to come. 

Such was the dark side of the picture ; but it was not with- 
out its balance of light. The loss of the Rhine-lands was no 
doubt a grievous moral and material injury to France ; yet it 
may be questioned whether their acquisition was not an even 
more serious injury to Germany. The failure to recognise the 
potential value of the French-Lorraine orefields made her un- 
successful even in her familiar role of robber, and allowed France, 
in spite of her defeat, to become the greatest iron-producing 
country of Europe. The material damage to wealth and 
population was certainly great ; but the war had been a short 
one, and in a sense the rapidity and completeness of her defeat 
had been a positive advantage to France. A long-drawn-out 
struggle might indeed have secured a more favourable treaty ; 
but the material strain would have been much greater. As 
it was, and comparatively speaking, the damage was such as 
might be quickly repaired. The economic machinery of the 
country was injured indeed, but not dislocated, with the result 
that the recovery was rapid, and that France was not prevented 
from taking a conspicuous part in the period of industrial and 
inventive progress which was about to open. 

Such a period was indeed a specially favourable one for a 
country whose need was recuperation and restoration. This 
in turn implied that, while the financial situation might be 
anxious, it was not beyond repair. As for the fighting forces, 
France had her great military traditions, and these, though 
rudely affronted by her defeat, were so deeply rooted that the 
re-establishment of the army might be regarded as a foregone 
conclusion. Even for wounded self-esteem there were some 
salves ; France could console herself with the heroic incidents 
of the People's War ; there were even many who argued that 
Germany might have been worn down had the French resistance 
been prolonged. The disasters of 1870 could be attributed to 


the blunders of imperial policy and the treason of Bazaine. 
Properly governed and led, Frenchmen could, and the majority 
probably did, argue that France remained invincible, and this 
encouraged the hope that in the end the tables would be turned. 
Even the episode of the Commune, which was not likely in any 
case to weigh heavily on the heart of a people nurtured in civil 
dissensions, could be attributed to an excess of zeal, a refusal 
mistaken perhaps, but glorious nevertheless to accept 

As to European isolation, that was indeed a sufficiently dis- 
turbing fact and one which long paralysed the foreign policy of 
France. But it was natural to hope that the Powers would 
soon recognise the necessity of restoring European equilibrium, 
and that they would be as averse from a German ascendency 
as in the past they had been from a French one. Finally, the 
question of internal government and of the Constitution which 
was yet to be made, though certainly a thorny one, and one 
which for almost a decade divided French politicians and 
paralysed the Assembly, left one ground on which all parties 
were agreed. They were united in their determination to 
restore France internally and to recover for her her place in 
Europe. Much has been written and rightly written of the 
factious and the fatuous behaviour of parties in the years 
immediately succeeding the Peace of Frankfort ; it has not, 
perhaps, been sufficiently recognised how profoundly, in spite 
of their divisions, the men of 1871 were united in their deter- 
mination to rescue their country from the depressed condition 
into which she had fallen. 

Setting the good against the bad, it is possible to conclude 
that, while France had suffered grievous damage morally and 
materially, there was no reason for despair. It was fortunate 
for her that she had placed her destinies in the hands of a 
statesman who never thought of despairing. Thiers, who 
had been appointed Chief of the Executive at Bordeaux on 
February 17, 1871, and assumed the title of " President of the 
Republic " on August 31, 1871, and who was practically Dic- 
tator until his overthrow in May 1873, can hardly be sufficiently 
praised for his determined optimism, as well as for his clearness 
of head and singleness of purpose during this critical period. 
It is easy to ridicule the vanity and the foibles of this wonderful 
septuagenarian, but it is not possible to deny him the credit 
of the essential steps which led to the emancipation of France 
and set her on the road of recuperation. He was splendidly 
equipped both in character and ability for the daunting task 


which, with characteristic alacrity and self-confidence, he had 

Thiers, on taking office, had surrounded himself with thor- 
oughly efficient ministers. A ministry which included Favre 
at the Foreign Office, Dufaure at the Ministry of Justice, Jules 
Simon at the Ministry of Education, Fine Arts and Public 
Worship, Ernest Picard at the Ministry of Interior, and Pouyer- 
Quertier at the Ministry of Finance did not lack distinction. 
In May and June a number of offices changed hands. Favre 
was replaced at the Foreign Office by de Remusat ; the Ministry 
of the Interior passed from Picard to Lambrecht, and subse- 
quently to Casimir-Perier and Lefranc in turn ; while General 
le Flo was succeeded by General de Cissey at the War Office. 
Pouyer-Quertier retained the Finance portfolio, but was 
subsequently replaced by de Goulard. The marvellous activity 
of Thiers however enabled him to control all the departments 
of State, so that the talented men who called themselves 
ministers were little more in practice than chief clerks occupied 
in carrying out the decisions of the Chief of the State. 

The primary object of Thiers' policy, to which all else was 
subordinate, was the removal of the incubus of the German 
Army of Occupation, and in this his success was rapid and 
complete beyond the most sanguine dreams. On October 12, 
1871, 1,500,000,000 francs of the war indemnity was paid, and six 
Departments were evacuated in accordance with the terms of 
the Treaty ; on June 29, 1872 a further evacuation took place ; 
finally on May 15, 1873 a Convention was signed arranging 
that the last instalment of the indemnity should be paid on 
September 5 next following, and that meanwhile Germany 
should be restricted to the occupation of Verdun. The evacua- 
tion was actually completed on September 16, 1873. Thiers 
had been driven from office in the previous May, before the 
final steps had been taken ; but the entire credit for the evacua- 
tion is his. 

The rapid settlement of the indemnity and the liberation of 
French territory consequent on it were the core of Thiers' 
policy. Various expedients for meeting the financial crisis 
caused by the indemnity were suggested. Among them were 
proposals for a voluntary national subscription, and for a levy 
on capital of from 3j per cent, to 5 per cent. Thiers discarded 
both suggestions and proceeded by way of loan. Two milliards 
were borrowed in 1871, the stock being issued at 82|. A loan 
of three milliards was offered in 1872 on terms equally favour- 
able to lenders, and was subscribed thirteen times over. Thiers, 


in fact, was so intent on his policy, and so determined that it 
should be successful, that he almost certainly offered terms too 
favourable to lenders. He has been reproached for this ; but 
it was fortunate for France that she was guided by a states- 
man who knew his own mind and refused to haggle. What 
Thiers secured for France was worth paying for ; and, if no 
provision has since been made for the redemption of these loans 
a far more serious ground for reproach than the favourable 
terms on which they were floated that is not his fault. Bis- 
marck's position in face of the unexpectedly rapid recovery of 
France, as evidenced by the speed with which she paid the 
indemnity, was ambiguous. He wanted the indemnity, but 
at the same time he wanted to keep France in bondage. His 
violent outbursts of temper are proof of his embarrassment. 
From this time forward he was in constant fear of a rapid 
recuperation of the enemy, leading to a renewal of the war. 
No better testimony is wanted to the reality of the French 

Next in importance to the evacuation of the territory was 
its security, and to provide for this Thiers, who prided himself 
on his knowledge of military matters, embarked on the re- 
organisation of the army. The Napoleonic organisation the 
work of Gouvion Saint Cyr had broken down in 1870. The 
principle of that organisation had been recruitment by lot. 
The war had proved the unwelcome necessity for universal 
service without exemption ; and this it was now decided to 
impose. The crux of the problem was the length of the term 
of service, and between the two schools which advocated re- 
spectively professional and territorial armies, long and short 
service, Thiers steered a middle course. In the end it was 
only by a threat of resignation that he secured the five years' 
term which he considered essential. The Military Law of 
July 27, 1872 provided for five years' service in the active 
army, four years in the reserve of that army, five years in 
the territorial army and six hi its reserve. A Committee of 
Defence was set up at the same time, and a system of " defen- 
sive curtains " was devised, by which provision was made for 
the defence of the new frontiers created by the Treaty of 
Frankfort. The reorganisation of the artillery and materiel 
was also commenced, and a War Budget of half a milliard was 

It was to these urgent matters of liberation and security that 
the activities of Thiers were mainly devoted. For domestic 
and even for foreign policy he had little time. Finance and 


taxation however were bound to receive consideration. Thiers 
was a protectionist, whereas a majority in the Assembly 
favoured Free Trade. On the issue between a tax on incomes, 
which he vigorously denounced, and a duty on raw materials, 
which he advocated, he was defeated by 367 votes to 297 ; 
he at once resigned, but was persuaded to withdraw his resigna- 
tion. Two laws of April 14 and August 10, 1871, on Munici- 
palities and Conseils gtneraux of Departments, which extended 
the powers of the latter and created Departmental Commissions 
to assist the Prefets, were mainly directed against the ascendency 
of Paris ; Thiers, as the principal antagonist of the Commune, 
not unnaturally distrusted Paris and favoured decentralisa- 
tion. These laws were steps in the direction of decentralisa- 
tion, and it is significant that they met with vigorous opposition 
from the Extreme Left. 

While these remedial and on the whole wonderfully suc- 
cessful measures were being adopted, one question, which in 
a sense dominated all others, remained in abeyance. France 
was still in the ambiguous position of having no Constitution 
or settled form of government. Thiers had been appointed 
with very vague powers to liquidate the past ; but for the 
future no provision had been made, and the most baffling 
complications surrounded any attempt to make it. In order to 
understand the difficulties which beset the constitutional question 
some departure from the actual sequence of events is necessary. 
The majority of the Assembly was in favour of monarchical 
government : the Orleanists were in a relative preponderance 
over other groups, though they did not command an actual 
majority in the Assembly ; there was a strong Legitimist group, 
and a very small group of Bonapartists. A powerful and as 
time went on an increasing minority, swelled by the Republicans 
steadily returned at elections, favoured a Republic. 

The most serious complication of the constitutional ques- 
tion however was the fact that no less than three dynasties 
had claims on the vacant throne. The elder line of the House 
of Bourbon was represented by Henri Comte de Chambord 
("Henri V"), grandson of Charles X; the Orleans claim 
rested in the Comte de Paris, grandson of Louis Philippe. Nor 
could the Bonapartes be wholly ignored. Napoleon III had 
not abandoned hope of a restoration, and, when he died on 
January 9, 1873, his claims passed to his son, the Prince 
Imperial. The French were not inclined to forget the tragic 
blunders of the Second Empire for which they were paying so 
dearly, and the recall of the Bonapartes would have been out 


of the question but for the complete deadlock between the 
two Bourbon dynasties. This gave at certain moments a 
dangerous vitality to the Napoleonic claims. 

At first sight it seems strange that an Assembly definitely 
monarchical in tone should not have set one or other of the 
Bourbon claimants on the throne, and astonishing that it 
should in the end have set up a Republic in spite of itself. To 
understand this puzzle it is necessary to examine the character 
and principles of the claimants. The Comte de Chambord is 
one of those characters to whose obstinate consistency it is 
impossible to refuse a despairing respect. In an aggravated 
degree the French " Henri V " resembles our " James III." He 
had certain convictions which it was impossible to shake. He 
would either be King by Divine Right, unhampered by charter 
or conditions, or he would remain an exile. As he himself 
remarked, he was either " a stout man with a limp " or the 
heir by Divine Right of an autocratic power. There were 
many men both in the Assembly and in the country who recog- 
nised Chambord as the legitimate claimant, but few who were 
ready to accept him on these terms. Those few, however, 
were numerous enough, in conjunction with the Republicans, 
to ruin the chances of the Orleans claimant. The supporters 
of the Orleans claim were actually the largest single group in 
the Assembly ; and among them were many distinguished 
men, such as the Due de Broglie, the Due d'Audiffret Pasquier, 
Casimir-Perier and the Due Decazes. They favoured an 
Orleanist restoration which would guarantee a liberal consti- 

But against the combination of the Legitimists with the 
Republicans they were powerless. To overcome this difficulty 
a compromise between the two branches of the House of 
Bourbon was proposed. This compromise, or " fusion " as it 
was called, was the more practicable in that Chambord was 
childless and now an elderly man. It should have been a 
simple matter for the two branches to agree, for the Orleanists 
to accept the claims of the Comte de Chambord, and for Cham- 
bord in turn to recognise the Comte de Paris as heir to the 
throne. The proposed " fusion " did indeed actually take 
place in August 1873, as the result of a visit by the Comte de 
Paris to his cousin at Frohsdorf, his place of exile ; and an 
immediate restoration of the monarchy seemed imminent. 

It was at this juncture, with the crown actually in his grasp, 
that Chambord re-emphasised his principles, and in so doing 
ruined not only his own chances but those of the House of 


Orleans. He insisted, or reinsisted, on the supersession of 
the Tricolor by the White Flag. This implied a decision not 
to recognise either the Revolution or the Empire ; a decision 
not indeed unnatural in the great-grandson of Louis XVI, 
but an attitude quite impossible for a King of France in 1872. 
To the vast majority of Frenchmen then living the epoch 
which Chambord proposed to wipe out was the very foundation 
of their liberties and fortunes, while to all Frenchmen it stood 
for the climax of national endeavour and national glory. Even 
a Legitimist so convinced as Marshal MacMahon regarded the 
suggestion with horror. 1 

Rightly or wrongly, the Revolution had become to the 
majority of Frenchmen a tradition, bloodstained, no doubt, 
but heroic and colossal, while the Empire, which was essentially 
the sequel of the Revolution, in spite of the recent hideous 
calamity in which it had vanished, was not only filled with 
unparalleled glories and unparalleled sacrifices, but had actually 
given to France the institutions under which she was then 
living, and which experience had proved to be admirably suited 
to her national peculiarities. All this the " stout man with 
the limp " now coolly proposed to ignore. Many attempts 
were made to cajole, and even to entrap, the Count into a 
compromise; but he remained not only immovable but also 
disastrously frank and outspoken. Thus he threw away the 
crown for himself and threw it away also for the House of 
Orleans, brought for a moment a Bonapartist restoration 
within the bounds of possibility, and finally ensured the estab- 
lishment of a Republic by a royalist Assembly. 

The Orleans dynasty, whose head was the Comte de Paris, 
but whose outstanding figure was his uncle the Due d'Aumale, 
a man of high character and popular personality, had quite 
other traditions and predilections. Louis Philippe had fought 
under the Tricolor, and his sons and grandson had no inclina- 
tion to disavow that emblem. Not only so, but they were 
traditionally liberal, traditionally ready to accept conditions ; 
a charter was no new thing to them ; they stood for constitu- 
tional as opposed to arbitrary government. The reign of 
Louis Philippe was looked back to as prosperous ; his downfall 
had been almost accidental ; and the one thing lacking to his 

1 Zevort, ii, 33. The famous conversation between the Marshal and the Due 
d'Audiffret Pasquier may be apocryphal. MacMahon was reported to have said 
that he would carry out his functions, but that "if the white flag was raised 
against the tricolour and was displayed at a window, while the other floated 
opposite, the chassepots would go off of their own accord," and that " he could 
not answer either for order in the street or for discipline in the army." 


reign had been dignity. Now it seemed that an Orleans restora- 
tion might provide a happy solution for the constitutional 
problem. It was eagerly desired by a majority in the Assembly ; 
and, the " fusion " having collapsed owing to the obstinacy 
of Chambord, a strenuous effort was made to hold up the whole 
constitutional question until death should have removed 
Chambord and have cleared the way for the House of Orleans. 
The march of events, however, cannot be thus held up. France 
stood in need of something more than a provisional government 
of indefinite duration. The tide turned, even in the Assembly, 
in favour of a Republic, and so it came about that in 1875 the 
Republic was born. 

Thiers, when he accepted office, had pledged himself to 
favour no party. This was an impossible pledge for anyone 
who proposed really to direct affairs, as Thiers most certainly 
did, or who contemplated being something more than a mere 
temporary liquidator, as Thiers even more certainly did. He 
was therefore obliged to take a side in the constitutional 
struggle above described. The aged statesman, with absolute 
self-complacency and confidence in his own powers, believed 
himself to be essential to France. He was therefore forced to 
descend into the constitutional arena. Thiers was an Orleanist 
by tradition ; but his alert mind quickly recognised the im- 
possibility, under the conditions prevailing, of any monarchical 
restoration. Though not a Republican by conviction, he was 
driven to the conclusion that a Republic was inevitable. It 
was, as he phrased it, " the form of government that divides 
us least." 

While Thiers accepted the idea of a Republic with some 
degree of reluctance, there were many who advocated it with 
conviction. The most prominent figure among these con- 
vinced Republicans was Gambetta, whose impulsive eloquence 
and dynamic energy made him a real leader of opinion. With 
such phrases as " A country should never hand itself over to 
one man," and " Clericalism ; there is the enemy ! " he pro- 
vided the cause with its war-cries. But while Gambetta at 
this period of his career desired a Republic that should move 
rapidly along the paths of social reform, and above all should 
break the choking bonds of ecclesiasticism, Thiers was 
sympathetic with the Church and developed the idea of a 
Conservative Republic. It was this idea that commended 
itself, when the time came, to a majority of the disappointed 

It is necessary to understand that the Legitimist cause was 

F 8 


closely linked with that of the Church of Rome and to realise 
the consequences of that connection. The period was one of 
great religious, or more strictly speaking ecclesiastical, revival. 
The downfall of the temporal power of the Papacy had 
rallied devout Roman Catholics to the side of the oppressed 
Pontiff and had led to the extraordinary spiritual claims put 
forward and accepted in the Vatican Council of 1870. It 
seemed as if the faithful desired to compensate the Pope for 
his material losses by denying him no spiritual claim, however 
extravagant. This rally to the Pope was perhaps more 
emphatic in France than anywhere else. 

Some of the French Bishops even petitioned the Assembly 
to intervene for the restoration of the temporal power. Such 
a step would have been in the highest degree impolitic, and 
might have embroiled France in a fresh war when she was 
still reeling from her recent experience. Thiers, while de- 
claring that he would defend religion, repudiated the idea 
of intervention. Pious Roman Catholics attributed the 
woes of their country to the decay of religion and were 
roused to a fever-heat of fervour. An enormous basilica 
dedicated to the Sacred Heart, on the heights of Mont- 
martre dominating Paris, was planned as a votive and ex- 
piatory offering. Had this revival been purely religious it 
would have aroused little opposition. But it was ecclesiastical 
and ultramontane even more than religious, and was an 
indication of the disastrous intention of the Church to throw 
itself into politics. 

This intervention of the Church in politics was the cause of 
a wide cleavage of opinions, which, to her great sorrow, has 
divided France ever since. There was, in fact, far more at 
issue than purely religious problems. The Western World, it 
must be remembered, was entering on a period of unparalleled 
economic and intellectual development. Discovery and in- 
vention were about to revolutionise society, and under these 
circumstances education began to assume a quite new impor- 
tance. There were those who blamed not the decay of religion 
but educational and intellectual sluggishness for the catastrophe 
of 1870-71. To them, as indeed to all unprejudiced and 
thoughtful minds, it was clear that, unless France threw herself 
whole-heartedly into the task of educational and intellectual 
development, that catastrophe must be final. If she was to 
take the place in the new Europe to which her traditions and 
national genius entitled her, she must do so by real achieve- 
ments intellectual and moral, and these could only be attained 


by the fullest acceptance of the need for a broad and liberal 

Now, the ultramontane trend of ecclesiastical ideas, leaning 
on the decrees of the Vatican Council and the reactionary 
Syllabus, threatened to ruin these aspirations, because educa- 
tion was largely in the hands of the Religious Orders. France 
therefore seemed doomed to a permanent eclipse, and the 
question was thus raised in its full intensity whether she was 
to accept a non-national and obscurantist education at the 
dictation of Rome, or whether she was to go forward on national 
lines, a free competitor in the race for national efficiency. 
France, in fact, had her Kulturkampf as well as Germany. For 
her it was a life-and-death struggle ; and the fact that the 
Legitimist dynasty was closely identified with Ultramontanism 
had a bearing on its failure and eclipse. 

During the autumn of 1872 Gambetta made a great tour of 
the country, advocating in a series of eloquent speeches the 
dissolution of the Assembly which he maintained had no con- 
stitutional mandate, and the summoning of a constituent 
Assembly to establish a Republican Constitution. On Novem- 
ber 13, 1872 Thiers, who had now definitely identified himself 
with the idea of a Conservative Republic, announced in a 
message to the Assembly that " events had founded the 
Republic." This unequivocal pronouncement implied a com- 
plete breach with the Extreme Right in the Assembly, 
and it was not certain that it would bring compensating 
support from the Left, where Gambetta' s doctrine of a 
democratic Republic emanating from a Constituent Assembly 
was gaining ground. The Left Centre however, a mainly 
Orleanist group, rallied to the President, and a Committee 
of Thirty was forthwith appointed (November 29, 1872) to 
present a Bill " determining the attributes of the public 
powers and the conditions of ministerial responsibility." 
This Committee, which contained hardly any Republicans, was 
by a strange nemesis destined to be the author of the Re- 
publican Constitution. A kind of fatality condemned it to the 
part of Balaam. 

Thiers, recognising the weakness of his position in the 
Assembly, now made overtures to the Right Centre, the strong- 
hold of the uncompromising Orleanists and Bonapartists. 
On November 30, 1872 he reconstructed the Ministry by 
introducing some members of that group. By so doing he 
alienated the more robust Republicans who had hitherto sup- 
ported him. He was in fact engaged in a game of trimming, 


and one of the most delicate nature. He was so far successful 
that he obtained permission for the introduction of a Bill for 
a Republican Constitution. 

The issue was now between a Conservative Republic as pro- 
posed by Thiers and Gambetta's scheme for what he called a 
" Republican Republic." A Ministry of liberal Republicans 
was formed under Dufaure, and the preparation of constitu- 
tional Bills was commenced. But Thiers' fragile majority 
broke in his hands. The alliance with the Right Centre col- 
lapsed. The out-and-out Orleanists, under the leadership of 
de Broglie, decided that Thiers must go. At first there was an 
idea of setting up the Due d'Aumale as a candidate for the 
Presidency ; but this was discarded and it was decided to 
concentrate on Marshal MacMahon. On May 24, 1873 the 
blow fell : Thiers was placed in a minority of thirteen and 
tendered his resignation. 

The fall of Thiers caused indignation and some alarm in 
Europe. It was felt, and not without reason, that the vener- 
able statesman's great services to France warranted better 
treatment than he had received ; and indeed he had deserved 
well of his country. He had raised her to a position for which 
no one could have dared to hope when he assumed power. 
He had liberated the soil of France, had reorganised the army 
in defiance of the strong protests of Germany, had baffled 
Bismarck's efforts to pick a fresh quarrel with France, had 
re-established French credit and had successfully inaugurated 
an era of great material progress. Agriculture and industry 
were prospering ; wages were rising ; and technical instruction 
had been established on a firm basis. This material prosperity 
was not of course wholly, or even primarily, due to Thiers ; 
it was part of a great European movement in which the 
national genius of France gave her a share. But it was due 
to Thiers that she had been sufficiently revitalised to play her 

It was in foreign policy that Thiers' success had been least 
conspicuous. Here he had been content, or had been forced, 
to mark time. Nothing had been done, perhaps nothing could 
have been done, to break the isolation of France. Her inde- 
terminate constitutional position was a powerful contributory 
factor to this continued isolation. Thiers had done his best 
to avoid everything that might give offence to any of the 
Powers. To avoid giving offence to Italy was a matter of 
special difficulty by reason of the Ultramontanism of the 
majority in the Assembly. Thiers, as we know, had withstood 


the pressure brought by the Bishops for intervention against 
the overthrow of the temporal power, but he had not been 
able to withdraw the French cruiser which was maintained at 
Civita Vecchia as an indication of the French liaison with the 

This was, of course, a cause of grave offence to the kingdom 
of Italy ; it helped to push that country into the arms of 
Germany, then engaged in her Kulturkampf, and thus to sow 
the seed which was later to spring up in the Triple Alliance. 
During the whole period of Thiers' Government, and indeed 
for long afterwards, French foreign policy was in fact in a 
state of paralysis. It was in part due to the absorption of 
Thiers in internal affairs of vast importance ; and also to the 
fact that, so long as the constitutional question remained 
unsettled, a definite foreign policy was impossible, and that, 
so long as the majority in the Assembly was bound to the 
Pope, France was compelled to fight her diplomatic battles 
with one hand tied behind her back. 

Thiers' successor chosen by 390 votes out of 391 cast 
was Marshal MacMahon, the victor of Magenta, the vanquished 
of Sedan. MacMahon was sixty-five, descended from a family 
of Irish extraction. Somewhat stiff and tactless, and troubled 
with a very bad memory, he was essentially not a politician 
but a soldier, with the scrupulous honour and loyalty of the 
best type of soldier. A convinced monarchist and an even 
more convinced Catholic, he was acceptable to the monarchist 
and ultramontane majority in the Assembly, and was regarded 
by them as a stop-gap who would hold matters in suspense 
until a monarchical solution of the constitutional question 
could be obtained. Nothing can be more certain than that 
MacMahon would at any time in his presidential career have 
willingly retired in favour of a legally appointed King. But it 
soon became clear that his punctilious respect for law made 
it equally certain that he would never allow himself to be 
made an agent in any attempt at a coup d'etat. 

It was, in truth, not as a monarchist but as an ultramontane 
that MacMahon was dangerous to France ; for in this direction 
he was able to gratify his convictions without doing violence 
to his conscience. He and his entourage announced themselves 
as the apostles of what they called " Moral Order " the 
euphemism employed to indicate the acceptance of the full 
yoke of the Roman Church. This policy, favoured by 
MacMahon, was developed by his Chief of the Cabinet (or Vice- 


President of the Council '), the Due de Broglie. De Broglie 
was the son of Louis Philippe's minister and the grandson of 
Madame de Stael, a man of great culture and distinction, who 
had recently served as ambassador in London. In conviction 
he was a strict, if liberal, Catholic and an Orleanist ; in character 
he was strong and silent ; of great ability, the master of a 
mocking and incisive eloquence, he was shy and reserved and 
somewhat over-subtle ; a great parliamentary leader, but not 
a man to sway the masses or influence opinion. 

The main objects of his policy were to settle the constitu- 
tional question in a monarchical sense, and to bring about a 
national return to Catholicism. At first it was hoped that, by 
means of the " fusion " of the two branches of the Bourbon 
dynasty, the need for temporisation might be avoided ; but, 
after the Frohsdorf visit (August 1873) and the reiteration by 
the Comte de Chambord of his insistence on the white flag, 
and the failure of all attempts to get over or round his decision, 
de Broglie recognised the need for procrastination, and, in the 
hope of keeping the ground clear for an eventual restoration 
of the House of Orleans, proposed an extension of the period 
of MacMahon's term of office. MacMahon was avowedly a 
monarchist, and could moreover be trusted not to cling to 
power for personal reasons, for he was quite devoid of political 
ambition. He was therefore the best possible stop-gap. In 
ten years the period at first proposed the probability was 
that Chambord might be dead and the field clear for the House 
of Orleans. 

Such in broad lines was the scheme conceived by de Broglie. 
At this juncture Chambord himself came secretly to Versailles 
in the hope of influencing the Marshal, and doubtless with 
the intention of executing a coup d'etat with his assistance. 
Monarchist as he was, MacMahon had the courage and honesty 
to refuse to receive the Count, who quickly returned to exile. 
On November 20, 1873 a Bill extending the Marshal's term of 
office to seven years was carried by a majority of sixty-eight. 
This " Septennate," as it was called, sealed the fate of the 
Legitimists, and seemed, while postponing, to secure the ultimate 
restoration of the House of Orleans. But much may happen 
in seven years, and it is as impossible to suspend as to foretell 
the march of events. 

1 The Chief of the Cabinet had to be content with the humble title of Vice- 
President of the Council until 1876, when Dufaure assumed the title of President 
of the Council. The President of the Republic was ex officio President of the 
Council and even after 1876 availed himself of his privilege. Grevy exercised 
considerable influence over his numerous ministers by his skilful chairmanship. 


In spite, and partly because, of this success de Broglie found 
himself obliged to reconstruct his Cabinet (November 26, 1873), 
to eliminate his Legitimist colleagues, and to take a step toward 
the Left. The most important ministerial change was the 
introduction of the Due Decazes as Foreign Minister. It is a 
curious and in some ways a fortunate characteristic of French 
public life that when a Cabinet falls many of the ministers 
often retain their posts in the succeeding Cabinet. Decazes 
survived many changes of ministry, and was able to give a 
certain continuity to French foreign policy until his fall in 

It was no easy task that had fallen to Decazes. The vehement 
religious propaganda patronised by de Broglie with the support 
of the majority in the Assembly had not only affronted Italy 
but had roused the indignation of Bismarck. Decazes tem- 
porised as best he could, and looked anxiously to England for 
support. A relaxation of the tariffs imposed by Thiers, the 
exemption of raw materials from duties and the abolition of 
flag- dues had enabled France to offer tariff concessions, and 
an economic treaty with England (July 23, 1873) was the 
first indication of a rapprochement with that country. It was 
the personal intervention of Queen Victoria, the Prince of 
Wales and the Tsar that forced Bismarck to adopt a less 
threatening attitude. This intervention was repeated in April 
1875, when Germany was on the point of demanding the 
disarmament of France. 

The alteration of the fiscal system was an item in the Budget 
of 1874, the work of Magne, the Minister of Finance. Magne 
was confronted with a deficit of 134,000,000 francs, to meet 
which new taxation was necessary. As the Conservative 
majority in the Assembly would not hear of the taxation of 
land, funded wealth or income, the only resource was to find 
the necessary money by indirect taxation, including taxation 
of food. This policy, which France has ever since been reluc- 
tant to abandon, amounted to an economic revolution. But, 
even so, it was impossible to balance the Budget, and an appre- 
ciable deficit remained. 

On October 6, 1873 the trial of Marshal Bazaine on a charge 
of treason was opened before a Council of War over which the 
Due d'Aumale presided. After a hearing which lasted for two 
months the accused was found guilty on December 6, and 
condemned to death with military degradation. But, on the 
representation of the Court which passed this sentence, it was 
commuted into twenty years' detention, without degradation. 


Making every allowance for his personal courage and the dis- 
tinguished services which he had previously rendered to his 
country, no unprejudiced person can exculpate Bazaine ; as 
the Due d'Aumale pointed out, he forgot France, of all crimes 
the most unpardonable in a Frenchman. The exaction of the 
extreme penalty might have had a salutary effect. Yet it is 
possible to rejoice that it was not thought necessary to inflict 
it. Bazaine escaped a few months later from his place of 
detention, 1 fled to Spain, and died hi Madrid in extreme 

De Broglie had alienated the Extreme (Legitimist) Right by 
his " Septennate " policy ; he was confronted moreover with 
a decided trend of public opinion towards Republicanism. The 
bourgeois classes, reassured by Thiers' return to public life and 
his advocacy of a Conservative Republic, were becoming more 
and more reconciled to that solution. De Broglie was driven 
to the dangerous expedient of leaning on the Bonapartist group, 
and this in turn drove more moderate men into the Republican 
camp. The Ministry was tottering ; and the repressive and 
autocratic measures which, in pursuance of its ecclesiastical 
policy, it now introduced hastened its downfall. The Law of 
January 30, 1874, for instance, which gave to the President 
power to appoint and dismiss Mayors, was wholly reactionary 
and quite foreign to the spirit of the times. 

The Extreme Right had now definitely cut itself adrift from 
de Broglie, and began to demand a definition of the constitutional 
situation which should indicate that the door was not closed 
against Chambord. The Republicans on their part also pressed 
for a definition, but one which should show that the door was 
closed against every form of monarchy. A definition was just 
what de Broglie could not provide. The whole strength of his 
position lay in its indefiniteness ; to define meant ruin. Not 
all the Minister's dialectical skill availed him in this dilemma. 
There was in fact no definition which would satisfy a sufficient 
number of the political groups to ensure a ministerial majority. 
The existing form of government was " either a provisional 
Republic or an expectant Monarchy " ; and whichever defini- 
tion de Broglie adopted, he was bound to alienate such a body 
in the Assembly as would put him in a minority. The defeat 
of the Government was inevitable, and on May 16, 1874 de 
Broglie was placed in a minority of sixty-four votes ; a result 
due to the union of the Right and Left Centres. 

In the eclipse of Legitimists and Orleanists the Bonapartists 

1 The island of Sainte Marguerite, off Cannes. 


had raised their heads. They had been prominent in de 
Broglie's reconstructed Cabinet; and in that of General de 
Cissey, which now (May 24) took its place, they were even more 
prominent. The de Cissey Cabinet was the weakest of com- 
binations. It did not command a majority either in the 
Assembly or in the country, where its Bonapartist tinge aroused 
general dismay. It only existed by the most strenuous self- 
repression. As M. Hanotaux remarks, " it only just breathed 
and vegetated noiselessly." Only the fear of a dissolution and 
a possible appeal to the country inspired the Assembly, in the 
interests of self-preservation, to retain it in office. 

De Broglie's Government had been defeated over a question 
of priority between two Bills, the Parliamentary Elections Bill 
and the Municipal Elections Bill. It was now decided to pro- 
ceed with the latter ; and, after some debate, the franchise in 
municipal elections was given to every male French citizen 
over twenty-one years of age in the Commune in which he 
resided. This indicated a strong drift towards extreme 

The Assembly was thus advancing slowly towards a Con- 
stitution. Gambetta, with that pliant adroitness which after- 
wards gained him the name of " opportunist," had veered round 
to the conclusion that the Republic he desired could be extracted 
from the Monarchist Assembly, and no longer maintained that 
the latter had no constitutional mandate. But the Extreme 
Left could not divest itself of suspicion of the Monarchists and 
continued to demand a dissolution. The march of the Assembly 
towards a Constitution was a painful one. Every step was 
taken with infinite reluctance and the majorities were very 
small. The nature of the Constitution thus came to depend 
on the votes of a few open-minded men, and especially on a 
small Left Centre group which followed the distinguished 
publicist, Leonce de Lavergne. Casimir-Perier, the son of 
Louis Philippe's Minister and a prominent member of the 
Left Centre, introduced a motion on June 15, 1874 for the 
organisation of the Republic under a President with two 
Chambers, and " Urgency " for this motion was carried by 
four votes ; a fresh, if narrow, victory for the union of the 
two Centres, which had already been successful in overthrow- 
ing de Broglie. General de Cissey resisted a motion for the 
definition of the existing form of government, and kept a 

But the Marshal was constrained by the attitude of the Left 
Centre to promise regular institutions, and on July 20, 1874 


to dismiss the Bonapartist members of the Ministry. The 
Assembly was then prorogued until November 30, and it was 
only in January 1875 that the task of creating regular institu- 
tions was begun. In the last days of December the Marshal, 
who was much embarrassed, summoned a number of members 
of the Left Centre to confer with him on the Constitutional 
question, and on January 9, 1875 vaguely invited the Assembly 
to set up a Senate. On January 25, by a large majority, the 
principle of a Second Chamber was adopted. 

The last days of January were critical days. Laboulaye, a 
distinguished professor, Chairman of the Left Centre, proposed 
the following clause : " The Government of the Republic con- 
sists of two Chambers and a President." This was too definite 
for the Majority and was rejected by 359 votes to 336 
(January 30) ; M. Wallon intervened with a somewhat less 
definite proposal : " The President of the Republic is elected, 
through the suffrages of the majority, by the Senate and by 
the Chamber of Deputies convened in the National Assembly. 
He is appointed for seven years and may be re-elected." This 
modification was sufficient to bring about a miniature land- 
slide of Left Centre votes, and his clause was carried by a 
majority of one vote 353 to 352 (January 30, 1875). The 
importance of this vote was that for the first time it put the 
idea of a Republic into words. January 30, 1875 has ever since, 
though not without some stretch of imagination, been regarded 
as the birthday of the Third Republic, and the mild student 
who devised the clause as its founder. 

A further law of February 1, 1875 enacted that the President 
should obtain the consent of the Senate before dissolving the 
Chamber ; and a clause establishing ministerial responsibility 
was passed on February 3. The next question was the com- 
position of the Senate, and election by universal suffrage was 
carried by twelve votes. This was too much for the Marshal, 
and the Government declared that it could not accept the 
clause. Everything was in confusion ; some demanded a 
dissolution ; others an adjournment ; others again, a change 
of Ministry. A compromise was evidently the only way out. 
The Marshal abandoned his right of appointing Life Senators 
in return for the abandonment of the principle of universal 
suffrage applied to the Senate. 

On February 24 the following clause was passed : " The 
Senate consists of 300 members, 225 elected by the Colonies 
and Departments and 75 by the National Assembly. . . . 
The Senators elected by the National Assembly are irremovable." 


On the following day it was decreed by a majority of 170 that 
the Chamber of Deputies should be elected by universal suffrage. 
Thus the essentials of a Republican Constitution were accepted 
by a Monarchical Assembly. The outstanding constitutional 
questions were decided during the course of the year. On 
July 16 a law on the mutual relations of the various branches 
of the Executive was passed ; on August 2 the electoral 
machinery for the appointment of Senators was denned ; and 
on November 2 it was decreed that the deputies to the Chamber 
should be elected by what was called scrutin d' arrondissement. 
Over this last question there had been considerable difference 
of opinion between scrutin de lisle and the method actually 
adopted. In scrutin de lisle the election is by Departments, 
and every elector may record as many votes as there are mem- 
bers : in scrutin d y arrondissement the subdivisions of the Depart- 
ments known as arrondissements are the units, and the elector 
may only record a single vote. It was held, and not without 
some justification, that scrutin d' arrondissement gave what we 
should call a "parochial" basis to elections and lent itself 
to corruption and the domination of petty interests, whereas 
scrutin de lisle directed the minds of the electors to larger 
interests, and was more likely to secure the election of men 
of wide views. 

The Constitution of 1875 has stood for over forty-seven years 
with remarkably little alteration. It has thus been by far the 
most enduring of the many Constitutions of France. When 
the conditions under which it was created are remembered this 
seems a remarkable result. For the Constitution was not the 
work of a single brain or of any school of thought. It was 
throughout a bargain and a compromise between reluctant 
groups, none of whom were enthusiastic for it and most of 
whom were sceptical of the wisdom of some at least of its 
provisions. It had involved sacrifice of cherished convictions 
from all its authors, and wholly commended itself to none of 

The strength of the Constitution probably lay in this very 
fact. Anything which exacted such an infinity of difficulty 
and compromise to build would not be built at all without 
compelling necessity. Nor must it be supposed that its authors 
failed to profit from the mistakes enshrined in the long line of 
abortive Constitutions that lay behind : experience was their 
guide. Perhaps the most outstanding characteristic of the 
Constitution was its boldness ; it embarked without hesitation 
on the sea of universal suffrage which to many seemed dark 


and limitless ; it put aside the idea of Directory or Consulate 
and placed at its head a single man : it accepted the principle 
of revision which was a protection against revolution, but also 
evidence that the authors of the Constitution of 1875 were 
by no means convinced of the merits of their handiwork. In 
this diffidence they compared favourably with earlier Consti- 
tution-makers. The subsequent troubles of France have 
frequently been attributed to the mistakes of the Constitution 
of the Republic ; but it is only fair to point out that not infre- 
quently they were due to breaches of it. 



THE establishment of the Constitution of 1875 placed both the 
President and the Assembly in difficult and ambiguous positions. 
MacMahon was essentially a legalist. There was therefore 
never any doubt that he would accept the Constitution and 
endeavour according to his lights to be loyal to it. But he 
was also firmly determined to take no step which would lead 
in the direction of secularist government. He remained the 
apostle of " Moral Order " ; and sooner or later the two ideals 
were bound to clash. Indeed they began to clash almost at 
once. The Marshal was suspicious of, and even antagonistic 
to, the democratic forces which had been mainly responsible for 
the establishment of the Constitution and to whose leaders the 
task of putting it into operation should have been entrusted. 
It has been argued with undeniable force that under these 
circumstances his proper course was to resign. Such a course 
would not have been personally distasteful to him. But he 
was convinced that he alone stood between France and extreme 
Republicanism and secularism and was therefore necessary to 
the country. 

And, if MacMahon was placed in an ambiguous position, so 
also was the Assembly, the majority of which was also hostile 
to the democratic forces which had triumphed in the Constitu- 
tional debates ; the majority in fact, curiously enough, was, 
broadly speaking, antagonistic to the Constitution which it had 
just helped to carry. The Assembly was visibly out of touch 


with the country ; dissolution hung over its head, and with it 
inevitable eclipse for many of its members. The Right was 
eager, before the Assembly passed into oblivion, to secure for 
the Church the control of Higher Education. Monseigneur 
Dupanloup cleverly cloaked clerical reaction under the guise of 
liberalism, and on July 12, 1875 a Bill was passed which 
rejected the claim of the State to the exclusive right of conferring 
degrees. In thus seeking to entrench themselves against the 
inevitable advance of liberalism the Clericals over-reached 
themselves. A little later they were to suffer for their adroit- 
ness, and when the time comes to examine the rights and 
wrongs of the anti-clerical measures of the Third Republic it 
must not be forgotten that it was the Clericals who, in this 
Bill of 1875, had flung down the challenge. 

On the resignation of the de Cissey Cabinet on February 26, 
1875, just at the most critical moment of the constitutional 
debates, MacMahon had had considerable difficulty, and had 
also, it must be acknowledged, displayed considerable inepti- 
tude, in dealing with the ministerial crisis. Finally, on March 10 
a Buffet Cabinet was constituted. The choice of Buffet for 
Chief of Cabinet was unfortunate ; for he embodied in his 
person just those fears and reserves which typified the feelings 
of the majority in the Assembly. He was visibly uncomfort- 
able in office, and indeed temperamentally unsuited for it. 
He was also uncomfortable with his colleagues, some of whom, 
it is fair to note, had been forced upon him by the Marshal 
President. He did not see eye to eye with Wallon, or Dufaure, 
or Leon Say. Seldom has a minister had a more unhappy 
term of office. It was under the guidance of the Buffet Ministry 
that the final touches were given to the Constitution. In 
particular the Ministry gave vigorous support to the policy 
of scrutin cT arrondissement. The final act of the expiring 
Assembly was to appoint 75 Senators according to the con- 
stitutional provision : of these 27 were from the Left Centre, 
25 of the Left ; 3 of the Extreme Left ; 9 of the Extreme 
Right ; 7 of the Lavergne group ; 1 Independent, and 3 only 
of the Right Centre. On December 31, 1875 the Assembly 
was dissolved. 

The elections for the Chamber of Deputies ensued. The 
President and Ministry adopted a policy of open hostility to 
the Republican candidates, and in a sense the election resolved 
itself into a struggle between Gambetta and MacMahon, and 
emphasised the complete cleavage between the two men and 
their ideals. And between the weapons they used also ; for, while 


Gambetta made full use of his magnetic eloquence and showed 
himself a real leader, MacMahon and his agents did not scruple 
to employ the administrative staff to influence the elections. 
The result was a total defeat for these indefensible tactics 
(which savoured of the most autocratic days of the Empire), 
and a resounding Republican victory. The Republicans in the 
new Chamber outnumbered the Right by nearly two to one. 
Within the Republican ranks a subsidiary victory had also 
been won by the extreme or convinced Republicans. It was 
a complete turnover of the political world, and the opening of 
a new chapter. Buffet, who had descended to the most un- 
worthy methods in order to control the elections, was driven 
ignominiously from public life. 

On the advice of de Broglie the Marshal, more and more 
embarrassed as the Republican victory became more pro- 
nounced, had tried to take the wind out of the sails of the 
Extremists by appointing his Ministry before he met the new 
Chamber. Dufaure, a veteran of seventy-eight, who had been 
Vice-President of the Council under Thiers and was a moderate 
Republican of liberal inclinations, was entrusted with the 
formation of the Cabinet, with the title of President, not as 
heretofore Vice-President, of the Council. The Marshal reaped 
little advantage from this manoeuvre, for the Dufaure Cabinet 
was both feeble and short-lived. The position hi relation to 
the Chamber of any Cabinet which would be tolerable to Mac- 
Mahon was in fact dubious. To retain the support of the 
Extreme Left was under the new conditions essential ; but 
measures calculated to secure that support would inevitably 
arouse the opposition of the Marshal. 

Two laws were carried, repealing the Higher Education Act 
of 1875 which had been the great triumph of the defeated 
Ultramontane majority in the recently dissolved Assembly, and 
repealing the Mayors Act of January 20, 1874. Both these 
repeals were undoubtedly justified. The question of an 
amnesty for those involved in the insurrection of the Commune 
was long debated in both Chamber and Senate; and on 
December 1 the ministerial proposals were defeated in the 
Senate, and Dufaure handed in his resignation. The only 
wonder was that he had been able to carry on the Government 
for nine months. 

MacMahon was in a more difficult position than ever. His 
first idea was to call de Broglie to office ; his next to insist on 
the withdrawal of Dufaure' s resignation. Neither of these 
expedients proving practicable, after ten days' hesitation he 


sent for Jules Simon (December 12, 1876), an old personal 
antagonist and a free -thinker whom MacMahon greatly dis- 
trusted but who would, he hoped, be willing to carry on 
Dufaure's policy and make it acceptable to Parliament. Simon, 
much gratified by his appointment, served the Marshal loyally. 
He continued Dufaure's pathetic attempts to go far enough 
to satisfy the Republican Left without going further than was 
acceptable to the Marshal, and like Dufaure he failed. He 
never succeeded in overcoming MacMahon' s distrust. His 
acceptance of a motion denouncing ultramontane intrigue at 
that time specially rife owing to the senile activity of Pius IX 
wounded the President in his most tender part ; but the 
final breach was caused by Simon's acquiescence in the repeal 
of certain press restrictions and in a Bill sanctioning the sitting 
of municipal councils in public. 

MacMahon was convinced that restrictions and repression 
were necessary in order to secure the triumph of " Moral Order," 
and on May 16, 1877 he addressed a letter to Simon which left 
the latter no alternative but resignation. On May 17 de Broglie, 
who had always been at MacMahon' s side as his adviser, took 
office at the head of a Cabinet of Bonapartists and Orleanists 
which was in truth nothing more nor less than an Ultramontane 
Cabinet : the Marshal had embarked on the experiment of 
governing without the support of a parliamentary majority. 
Parliament was immediately prorogued for a month, and on 
its reassembly de Broglie appealed to the Senate, when he felt 
sure of a majority, to sanction a dissolution. By a majority 
of nineteen votes they did so. 

There ensued a very determined effort on the part of the 
Government to influence the elections : an enormous number 
of functionaries convicted or suspected of adherence to Repub- 
lican views were dismissed ; the Marshal even stooped so low 
as to make a direct appeal to the army. The clergy joined 
in the fray, the Bishops publishing special charges. On the 
official notices MacMahon' s supporters announced themselves 
as " Candidates of the Government." The result was total 
defeat for the reactionaries. In spite of all the unjustifiable 
means that had been employed they scarcely made an impres- 
sion on the Republican majority. A transfer of forty seats 
and of 700,000 votes of a total of 7,000,000 voters was the net 
result of all this activity. The Republicans returned with a 
clear majority in the Chamber of more than 100. 

Confronted with this hostile majority, the result of a direct 
appeal to the electorate, the Marshal made one more despairing 


effort : he called on General Rochebouet to form an extra- 
parliamentary Cabinet. It is difficult to see what benefit he 
expected to derive from this step. The Rochebouet Ministry 
was completely paralysed, the Chamber even refusing to vote 
supply : it only held office for three weeks (November 23 
December 15, 1877). MacMahon was now obliged to recognise 
his defeat ; but he still refused to send for Gambetta, the real 
victor in the recent crisis, and recalled Dufaure, who formed 
a Republican Left Centre Ministry. The special proteges of the 
Marshal, who had reappeared in all his ministries, now disap- 
peared : of these the most important was Decazes, who had 
remained at the Foreign Office for four years. His place was 
taken by Waddington, a learned and enlightened man, a Pro- 
testant of English extraction and upbringing. 

Dufaure' s Ministry commanded a majority in the Chamber, 
and its actions were those of a constitutional ministry. It 
seemed that the Marshal was resigned to accept the constitu- 
tional role to which the failure of the Seize Mai had reduced him. 
The return of a Republican majority of about sixty in the 
Senate at the sensational elections of 1878 put one more temp- 
tation out of his way. MacMahon presided with dignity over 
the International Exhibition which was held in Paris in the 
spring of 1878, and it seemed likely that he would conclude 
his septennate without further difficulties. But when he 
found that the Dufaure Ministry were determined in response 
to the demand of the Republican Majority on the removal of 
certain officers and functionaries to make room for Republicans, 
and when he was pressed to supersede highly-placed army 
officers whose only fault as he conceived it had been their 
fidelity to him, he determined to resign (January 30, 1879). 

MacMahon's presidency had been a troubled one. His 
strong ultramontane leanings, and his horror perfectly genuine 
and frankly avowed of a secularist republic, had done much 
harm : abroad it had helped to alienate Italy and to provoke 
Germany ; at home it had placed the honest soldier in the 
hands of the unscrupulous politicians who surrounded him and 
took advantage of his political ineptitude. His part during the 
crisis of the Seize Mai had been forced on him : rather than 
play it he should have resigned. Nevertheless MacMahon's 
presidency had been of real value to France. The prestige of 
his name and the dignity with which he performed his high 
duties had commanded a respect in the Chancelleries of Europe 
which would have been extended to no other living French- 
man. Even his leanings towards Monarchical institutions and 


his hostility towards Republicanism obstructive as they had 
been at home had had their value abroad, where a more rapid 
and complete transformation of France into a Republic might 
well have led to disastrous complications. Personally Mac- 
Mahon was always honoured and respected during his term of 
office, and this honour and respect followed him into private 

The retirement of MacMahon marks the close of one epoch 
and the opening of another. The would-be Monarchic Republic 
gave place to the " Republican Republic " ; in 1879 therefore 
a new era opens, and it is proper to take stock of the inter- 
national position of France during the era that closed on 
January 30, 1879. During the last year of the MacMahon 
Presidency Waddington had been at the Foreign Office, but 
during the four years immediately preceding that office had 
been continuously occupied by the Due Decazes. A certain 
continuity had thus been given to French foreign policy. 
Decazes was a man who moved in half-lights and carried 
self-effacement to extreme lengths, so much so that it is 
difficult to detect in his policy any definite trend save that 
of the line of least resistance. It would be rash to assert that 
this policy or lack of policy was ill-advised, or that France, 
in the ambiguous and dangerous position in which she had been 
left by the Treaty of Frankfort, could have adopted a more 
self-reliant attitude or pursued a more active policy. The 
embarrassments with which she was confronted were immense, 
and not least among them was the indeterminate character of 
her Government. The Powers were shy and reluctant to enter 
into close relations with a country which seemed to be halting 
between a Republic and a Monarchy. 

The ultramontane leanings of the President and the Majority 
in the Assembly of 1871 created even greater difficulties. A 
Legitimist restoration, which was never impossible so long as 
this Assembly endured, would have completely alienated Italy 
and might have heralded a renewal of war with Germany. 
The Decazes period was therefore of necessity an inglorious one. 
Even in the colonies such movement as there was seemed to 
be retrograde. In Africa France appeared to be abandoning 
her foothold ; in Indo-China, where the exploration of the 
Red River by Jean Dupuis presented an admirable access for 
the penetration of Southern China, no move in this direction 
was made ; but by a treaty with the Court of Hue (March 15, 
1874) Annam accepted a disguised French Protectorate and 
cut herself off from China ; while on August 31, 1874 a further 

F 9 


treaty secured to France commercial privileges on the Red 
River. In Egypt it was Decazes who took the first steps which 
led to the exclusion of France from that country. The Suez 
Canal was a French enterprise ; but Disraeli's celebrated coup 
(December 1875), by which the Khedive's shares passed en bloc 
to the British Government, gave to the latter a predominating 
interest in the canal. France made no move to anticipate, 
prevent, or protest against this transaction, which implied her 
ultimate exclusion from Egypt. Meanwhile however the 
financial administration of that country was placed under an 
Anglo-French condominium (1876). 

In 1875, just when France was in the throes of the consti- 
tutional struggle, the Near Eastern question was brought to a 
fresh crisis by the revolt against Turkey of Hercegovina, which 
revolt subsequently spread to Bosnia, roused Serbia and Monte- 
negro to action and prompted the intervention of Russia in 
Balkan affairs. The three Imperial Governments, divergent as 
then* interests were, attempted joint action, and France followed 
humbly in their wake. In 1876 England attempted mediation, 
and again France acquiesced. She was in fact in the embar- 
rassing position of having to choose between England and 
Russia, and there was undoubted wisdom in her reluctance to 
declare herself. 

On the resignation of MacMahon, Jules GreVy was at once 
elected to the Presidency by 563 out of 670 votes cast. Inas- 
much as he had no international reputation or prestige he was a 
complete contrast to his predecessor. Jules Grevy was a sedate 
leader of the Bar, whose political career had been distinguished 
by unfailing common-sense. Homely in character, he was ill- 
fitted for the social and ceremonious duties of the high office 
to which he had been raised, and as he grew older his homeli- 
ness degenerated into parsimony. In spite of this drawback 
Grevy had high qualifications. He was wholly constitutional 
and, although by his skill in presiding over the Council of 
Ministers he exercised considerable influence on politics, he 
never attempted to strain the powers conferred on him as 
President of the Republic, and his influence was always on the 
side of peace and good sense. Grevy was a proved Republican, 
and with his accession to the Presidency France stood before 
the world a Republic, naked and unashamed. 

The natural consequence of this would have been the estab- 
lishment of Gambetta, to whom the Republican victory was 
mainly due, as head of the Government. But Gambetta was 
personally distasteful to Grevy ; and his elasticity, his readiness 


to be inconsistent provided he could attain his major ends, was 
rendering him suspect to the more unyielding Republicans of 
the Extreme Left. He was therefore appointed President of 
the Chamber, while Waddington was entrusted with the recon- 
struction of the Ministry. Waddington was possibly the least 
distinguished man in his own Cabinet, which included such 
men as Jules Ferry, de Freycinet and Admiral Jaureguiberry, 
all of whom were destined to leave their mark on public affairs. 
At the Ministry of Public Works Sadi Carnot, afterwards an 
esteemed President of the Republic, took office as an Under- 
secretary. It is interesting to note that three of the ministers 
were Protestants. The Waddington Ministry was genuinely 
Republican, but the recent elections would have warranted 
a ministry of full-blooded Republicanism, rather than one 
which took its tone from the Left Centre. Its weakness for 
it proved to be a weak ministry proceeded from the rivalries 
of the many strong men within it, also from the size of the 
Republican majority, but mainly from this fact that it did 
not truthfully represent the prevailing shade of Republicanism. 

In spite of this the Waddington Cabinet accomplished some 
useful legislation. The question of the amnesty for those 
involved in the insurrection of the Commune, which had long 
been a subject of controversy, was at length settled, an all-but- 
complete amnesty being granted. The return of the Legis- 
lature from Versailles to Paris was also voted in face of con- 
siderable opposition in the Senate. The administrative per- 
sonnel was thoroughly purged and republicanised, while, under 
the vigorous control of de Freycinet at the Ministry of Public 
Works, an enormous programme of canals and railways was 
undertaken. But the most important measures of the Wad- 
dington Cabinet were the Education Bills introduced by Jules 
Ferry as Minister for Public Instruction : the first steps in a 
complete reform and expansion of education which was to 
cover a period of several years. 

Having provided, in a preliminary measure, for higher educa- 
tion in Algeria, Ferry introduced two Bills, the first of which 
eliminated from the Higher Board of Public Instruction all 
ecclesiastics and privileged nominees of vested interests. In 
his Second Bill he made over to the State the collation of 
University Degrees, and reduced independent educational 
establishments to the status of " free schools." The Bills were 
introduced by Ferry in reasoned speeches of great power. He 
openly avowed that the Government was attacking the Jesuits, 
but disavowed all intention of attacking the Catholic Church. 


" That," he said free-thinker though he was " would be a 
great and criminal folly ; we do not need a Kulturkampf." The 
resistance to Clause VII was led by Jules Simon, himself an 
academic free-thinker, on the sophistical ground that the Bills 
were an attack on liberty. In spite however of considerable 
opposition they were passed into law. 

Waddington occupied the Foreign Office both during his own 
ministry and that which had preceded it. His tenure of this 
portfolio involved no change of policy ; he continued the work 
of Decazes. The war between Russia and Turkey, which had 
begun in 1877, was terminated by the Treaty of San Stefano 
(March 9, 1878). But the Powers decided that the whole 
question of the Near East must be reviewed by a European 
Congress, and on June 13, 1878 this Congress assembled at 
Berlin. Waddington attended it in person, and was approached 
by Lord Salisbury with the offer of a free hand in Tunisia in 
return for French sanction of the proposed British occupation 
of Cyprus. The French Foreign Minister referred this overture 
to his colleagues, who decided to pay no attention to it. 
France thus returned from the Congress empty-handed. The 
policy of self-effacement had reached its climax. 

The Waddington Ministry, without having suffered a parlia- 
mentary defeat, perished of inanition in December 1879, and 
was remodelled under the leadership of de Freycinet, who, 
though a more lively and energetic man than his predecessor, 
was too supple and undulating to be a really good Prime 
Minister. During his tenure of the Ministry of Public Works 
in the Waddington Government 18,000 kilometres of railways 
and canals had just been either completed or projected. De 
Freycinet, in fact, was a great administrator rather than a 
great statesman. 

At the moment when he formed his first Cabinet Gambetta 
overshadowed the whole arena of politics, and was the real 
" power behind the throne." His exclusion from the leader- 
ship to which his paramount influence and great services to 
the Republic entitled him was the greatest mistake made by 
Grevy, and was largely responsible for the disquieting instability 
of ministries which characterised the period of the latter 's 
Presidency. It was under the de Freycinet Government that 
Ferry's educational decrees were put into force. The Jesuits 
were expelled, and anti-clerical feeling ran high. It was owing 
to the suspicion that he was attempting a compromise with 
the Holy See that de Freycinet lost the confidence of the 
Chamber, and on September 19, 1880 he sent in his resignation. 


Once more passing over Gambetta, Grevy sent for Ferry, and 
for the third time the portfolios were shuffled. Ferry was 
probably the most effective minister produced by the Third 
Republic. He had for one thing the faculty, rare in Republican 
France, for retaining office. This implied other faculties : he 
had enormous energy, great decision of character and unfalter- 
ing persistence ; finally he was an ardent patriot and a real 
enthusiast for the causes he had chiefly at heart educational 
progress, and the reassert ion of France as a Power which 
counted in Europe. 

Ferry's reputation has greatly suffered from the attacks 
made on him by the Church, which accused him of aiming at 
the subversion of religion. Ferry was not a believer, but 
neither was he an enemy of religion. What he attacked was 
not religion or even the Church, but the endeavour so fatal 
to the Church and so injurious to the State to introduce 
religion into politics ; anti-clerical he was, but not anti-religious. 
With the co-operation of Paul Bert, a much more vehement 
opponent of clerical claims, Ferry now pressed forward further 
educational reforms. On December 21, 1880 a comprehensive 
scheme for the secondary education of girls was passed into 
law ; and on June 16, 1881 two further important educational 
measures were promulgated ; between 1879 and 1886 the entire 
educational system of France was in fact modernised. Whether 
he was chief of the Cabinet or not, in office or out of office, the 
inspiration of all this legislation came from Ferry. To him and 
to his wisely chosen subordinates the entire credit for the 
erection of this great fabric is due. 

Nor was there any lack of other liberal and emancipating 
measures. A law of June 30, 1881 established the right of 
public meeting, and a law of July 29 of the same year repealed 
all the restrictive legislation which had hampered the Press. 

But Ferry has another and perhaps even higher claim on 
the gratitude of his country. To him, first among practical 
statesmen, it became a prime object of policy to restore France 
to her proper position in Europe. She was drifting steadily 
towards the position of a second-rate Power, and indeed was 
regarded and treated in many quarters as such. Ferry and 
his friends perceived that, in order to secure an outlet for those 
activities which they recognised as still extant in France, they 
must seek an arena outside Europe ; and by degrees the policy 
of colonial expansion which marks his period was conceived 
and put into operation. 

France already had large interests overseas ; and it was 


necessary to decide whether they should be pressed forward 
or abandoned : a prolonged stationary policy was impossible. 
The most important of these interests were in Indo-China, in 
West and Equatorial Africa, in Madagascar and in Algeria. 
There was also the French interest in Egypt, where the financial 
condominium between England and France still existed. In 
this quarter however the position of France was becoming 
exceedingly difficult ; for England was beginning to realise the 
vital importance to her Empire of control of the isthmus of 
Suez, and was becoming more and more reluctant to share that 
control with any other Power. 

In Tongking trouble arose with China over the interpretation 
of the Treaty of March 14, 1874 between France and Annam. 
Le Myre de Villers, the Governor of Cochin China, acting on 
instructions from home, had pursued a forward policy in this 
region with a view to forestalling China ; and on April 30, 1881 
he was ordered to establish a definite French Protectorate. 
In Equatorial Africa Stanley's Congo Expedition, which 
began in 1877, came as a challenge to France. Savorgnan de 
Brazza set out on an expedition designed to rival that of 
Stanley, and in September 1880 reached the River Congo. 

In Northern Africa schemes of a more grandiose nature were 
afoot. De Freycinet had planned a great trans-Saharan rail- 
way, which however came to nothing, a prospecting expedi- 
tion being massacred by the Tuareg in 1881. But it was in 
Tunisia that the most important developments took place. 
Algeria, where France had long been established, was invaded 
by Tunisian bands (March 30, 1881) ; and, encouraged by 
England, and even by Germany, Ferry took prompt and effec- 
tive measures. The Tunisians were defeated, and on May 12, 
1881 the Treaty of the Bardo was signed with the Bey. Turkey 
and Italy, which both had interests, and the latter ambitions, 
in Tunisia, resented this action, which no doubt helped to 
drive Italy into the arms of Germany and Austria. 

The two Germanic Powers had already entered into a Secret 
Treaty on October 7, 1879 ; this was the nucleus round which 
the Triple Alliance was to be built, and that Alliance was 
brought definitely nearer by France's vigorous action in Tunisia. 
Ferry's colonial policy was fiercely denounced by politicians 
like Clemenceau, who saw in it nothing but grave risk in return 
for valueless tracts of desert and jungle. This opposition was 
encouraged by the outbreak of an insurrection in Tunisia, 
which involved France in further commitments, and was only 
repressed after the capture of Qairwan on October 28, 1881. 


It was in fact his colonial policy, since recognised as brilliant 
and statesmanlike, and as the first breath of French revival, 
that was the direct cause of Ferry's downfall on November 14, 

In May of that year, in preparation for the dissolution which 
was impending, a proposal for the substitution of scrutin de 
liste for scrutin d* arrondissement had been brought forward, 
and carried by a narrow majority in the Chamber, only to be 
rejected in the Senate. This was a victory for Grevy, who 
was opposed to the change, over Gambetta, who had vigorously 
advocated it. In the summer the term of the 1877 Chamber 
expired and on August 21 the elections of deputies for a new 
Chamber began. They resulted in an increased majority for 
the Republican party. They returned 467 strong while the 
Reactionaries were reduced to 90. This election combined with 
the increasing unpopularity of Ferry's colonial policy to make 
a Gambetta Ministry a certainty. 

President Grvy recognised the inevitable, and on the resig- 
nation of Ferry at once sent for Gambetta. He had been 
forced by circumstances to do what should have been done two 
years before. For a moment Gambetta thought of constructing 
a ministry of " all the talents " ; but he found this impossible, 
and the Ministry of November 14 (" Le Grand Ministers" as it 
was called in sarcasm) contained few conspicuous names. 
Gambetta himself retained the portfolio of Foreign Affairs. But 
though it was not a ministry of " all the talents," it was a 
combination of thoroughly efficient public men ; above all, 
unlike its predecessors, it was homogeneous. It was no 
deficiency of personnel that made Gambetta' s Ministry so brief. 
Rather it was the jealousy and suspicion that had long been 
gathering round the great tribune. His judicious moderation 
of his earlier demands had alienated many of the extreme 
Republicans on whom he was bound to rely for support. For 
some he went too far ; for others the newly-formed Radical 
group for instance, which included Clemenceau, Ribot, Pichon 
and Millerand he did not go far enough. 

He had already announced his programme. He demanded 
a democratisation of the Senate, if necessary, by means of a 
revision of the Constitution ; he proposed the reduction of the 
term of army service to three years, but on the understanding 
that service was to be compulsory and universal ; he advo- 
cated also the always unpopular imposition of a tax on 
incomes, and the strict enforcement of the Concordat. In 
foreign policy he stood for firmness without aggression. He 


had given vigorous support to Ferry in his colonial policy, and 
one of his first acts as President of the Council was to confirm 
the Treaty of the Bardo. All this was statesmanlike. Gambetta 
had learnt statesmanship. He was no longer the " raving 
lunatic " of whom Thiers had been so scornful ; but all the 
same, his fiery past was not forgotten. 

The foolish catchword went round " Gambetta, tfest la 
guerre ! ' and quiet men trembled. Gambetta was in fact 
surrounded with suspicion and himself recognised that his 
Ministry was bound to be ephemeral. It stood, as events 
turned out, for no more than sixty-three days. The weakness 
of the Ministry was not slow to display itself. The substitution 
of scrutin de lisle for scrutin d? arrondissement remained a prin- 
cipal item in Gambetta' s policy. He had been baulked of this 
reform by the action of the Senate ; logic thus dictated a 
reform of the Senate, and this in turn involved revision of the 
Constitution. This aroused the instinct of self-preservation in 
both Senate and Chamber, and on January 31 the Ministry was 
defeated and Gambetta resigned. 

Gambetta was thus deprived of the opportunity of leaving 
his impress on internal legislation or on foreign affairs. In 
the latter however he had one opportunity of showing his 
intentions. The Arabi Pasha crisis in Egypt was at its height 
during his Ministry ; Gambetta was fully alive to the impor- 
tance of Egypt and alive also to the even greater importance 
of conciliating England. His policy was quite definite. France 
must associate herself with England in Egypt, must support 
her if necessary with money and arms. This was the tenor of 
the communications that passed from him to Lord Granville. 

They were however somewhat coldly received in that 
quarter ; nor did this policy commend itself to public opinion 
in France, adverse as it was at the moment to further oversea 
commitments. These overtures are interesting, not for any 
success that attended them but as evidence of Gambetta' s long 
vision and sane wisdom. They were interrupted by the over- 
throw of the Ministry. Eleven months later the great French- 
man was dead (December 31, 1882). The task of government 
fell to lesser hands and shorter visions. It is the great tragedy 
of the Third Republic that, possessed of this gigantic figure, 
developing into a statesman as powerful as he had been as 
tribune, she first deprived herself of his services and was then 
deprived of them by death. 




ON Gambetta's fall de Freycinet was recalled to office. His 
Cabinet was a very distinguished one : Ferry at the Ministry of 
Public Instruction, Leon Say as Finance Minister, and Jaure- 
guiberry at the Marine. It has been described with some justice 
as " Le grand Minister e sans le grand ministre" Never had a 
greater number of distinguished ministers been brought to- 
gether ; never, on the other hand, had there been a Cabinet 
less coherent ; and de Freycinet was the last person competent 
to remedy the defect. Its period of office was consequently 
ineffective, and was redeemed from sterility only by the re- 
sumption of educational reform under the guidance of Ferry. 

The law of March 28, 1882, which made primary education 
both compulsory and secular, was the most important of all 
the Ferry laws. A Bill to bring private secondary schools under 
Government control was introduced but rejected by the Senate. 
Ferry has been denounced as the enemy of God. Both he and 
his coadjutor Bert were free-thinkers ; yet neither desired to 
attack religion. Ferry in particular repeatedly repulsed this 
charge with unanswerable eloquence, and emphasised the 
distinction between religion and clericalism. The Church, it 
was impossible to deny, was the great obstacle to efficient and 
systematised education ; it was ready also to prostitute educa- 
tion for its own propagandist ends. It is difficult to argue 
that those who attacked it on these grounds were worthy of 
blame. But the Church possesses, and has seldom scrupled to 
use, a terrible power of defaming its enemies ; and Ferry's 
name was long execrated, even by sensible and respectable men, 
as the enemy of religion, while his services to education, which 
saved France from falling behind in the great European struggle 
for efficiency, were forgotten. 

De Freycinet' s mind was of a much less definite cast than 
that of either Gambetta or Ferry, and this difference was visible 
in his conduct of foreign policy. On May 28, 1882 the Treaty 
which is known as the Triple Alliance was signed between 
Germany, Austria and Italy ; but its existence, though suspected, 
was not revealed till two years later. It was to some extent 
the result of the forward colonial policy of France in recent 


years. Already the wisest Frenchmen were alive to the need 
for a rapprochement between France and Russia and England. 

But such an event seemed still very remote. Gambetta had 
hoped to propitiate England by close co-operation in Egypt. 
The landing of English troops in Egypt to deal with the Arabi 
revolt was unwelcome news, and made the position more diffi- 
cult. De Freycinet's policy was hesitating. He fumbled with 
the question. When England proposed a Conference he did 
not acquiesce ; when the British fleet bombarded Alexandria 
the French fleet lay idle ; all that de Freycinet could persuade 
himself to propose was the landing of a few troops for the 
protection of the Canal, a proposal so timid that even French 
public opinion revolted and brought about the downfall of 
the Ministry. In this feeble fashion the French interests in 
Egypt, already compromised by Decazes, were thrown away 
by de Freycinet. That they were fated to be lost is no doubt 
true, for the reason that the importance of Egypt to England 
is vital ; but they might have been abandoned in a franker 
fashion ; they were a counter in the diplomatic game, and this 
counter de Freycinet failed to use. What he did was to lose 
Egypt without either conciliating England or securing com- 
pensation elsewhere. A bolder and clearer policy might have 
hastened the Entente ; as it was, not only was Egypt lost but 
England was alienated. 

Duclerc, who succeeded de Freycinet as President of the 
Council, was a capable man of the second rank who had been 
a close ally of Gambetta. He held office from August 1882 
till January 28, 1883, when ill-health caused him to resign, and 
his colleague, Fallieres, carried on the Ministry for three weeks. 
A bolder colonial policy marked this change of Government. 
Credits were asked for strengthening the French forces in Indo- 
China, at the risk of a breach with China. French interests in 
Madagascar were also vigorously pressed, while in Equatorial 
Africa de Brazza's treaties with native chiefs were officially 
recognised, the Loango region was occupied, and on January 10, 
1883 the French West Central African dominions were consoli- 
dated under the governorship of de Brazza. King Leopold of 
Belgium, whose Congo territories were threatened by de Brazza's 
establishment on the River Congo, was conciliated by the grant 
of a right of passage through French territories. As to Egypt, 
England was inclined to encourage a renewal of the French 
financial interest in that quarter. But Duclerc recognised that 
there the die was already cast, and did not respond to the over- 


The opening days of 1883 were overclouded by the recent death 
of Gambetta and rendered uneasy by a manifesto which Prince 
Bonaparte, 1 taking advantage of the intense feeling aroused 
by that event, published on January 15. The political world 
was at once plunged into heated debates by proposals for the 
expulsion of the royal princes ; the Ministry, deprived by illness 
of its chief, and by resignation of several of its members, could 
make no headway in the storm thus aroused, and on February 21 
resigned. On the same day Jules Ferry was recalled to power. 
He was obviously the man best calculated, now that death had 
removed Gambetta, to bring together a homogeneous ministry. 
His courage, industry and capacity had already been proved, 
with the result that, in spite of a certain grumbling opposition 
from the Elysee, he was able to maintain himself in power for 
the unusual period of two years. This was of incalculable im- 
portance in his region of foreign and especially colonial policy, 
to which Ferry was able to give a definite direction ; and it is 
for its vigorous colonial policy that the Second Ferry Ministry 
is celebrated rather than for its conduct of internal affairs, 
where it was content in the main with a firm administration of 
existing laws. 

The world-wide interests of France were daily becoming 
more complex. Sooner or later, if actively pressed, they were 
bound to bring her into contact and possibly into conflict with 
other European Powers, and this was clearly recognised by 
Ferry. It required some courage at this particular moment to 
press French colonial interests ; for the alliance of Italy with 
the Germanic Powers had just been revealed (March 1884), and 
the isolation of France seemed more absolute than ever. Ferry 
however did not hesitate ; and in every quarter of the globe 
where France had interests the years of his ministry were years 
of advance. On June 8, 1883 a French Protectorate was 
definitely set up in Tunisia ; advances were made in Senegal, 
and French posts were established on the Niger. The French 
foothold on the Red Sea at Obok was secured, and fresh action 
was taken in Madagascar against the irreconcilable Hovas. In 
Indo-China concessions had been made to China during the 
Duclerc Ministry ; these were now repudiated, and the French 
Minister at Peking who had made them was withdrawn. The 
death (April 19, 1883) in a sortie from the town of Hanoi, where 
he was besieged by Annamites and " Black Flags," of Riviere, 
the French commander in Indo-China, further complicated 
matters. Admiral Courbet and General Boue't were despatched 

1 Prince Napoleon (Jerdme) Bonaparte, generally known as " J?lon-Plon." 


with strong reinforcements, and on August 25, 1883 a treaty 
was imposed on Annam which established a French Protec- 
torate, increased the French territory in Cochin China and 
brought Tongking under French control. China however 
refused to recognise this treaty, and English susceptibilities 
were aroused by an attempt on the part of France to arrange 
a treaty with Burma. 

The policy of colonial activity was reaching its inevitable 
consequences ; France was coming into contact with the great 
European Powers. It was in Equatorial Africa however that 
this result was most evident. There the situation was compli- 
cated by the ambiguous position of King Leopold's amorphous 
Congo Association, a mere commercial concern with no juridical 
international existence. Portugal and England both looked 
askance at King Leopold's venture ; and on February 26, 
1884 a treaty between these Powers established Portuguese 
sovereignty at the mouth of the Congo. Leopold appealed to 
Paris and was accorded a right of access to the Congo basin 
by way of the Niari Valley, in return for which he gave to 
France the right of pre-emption over the vast area controlled 
by his Association. 

At this juncture (April 1884) Germany took the first steps 
in the policy which made her a colonial power by annexing 
Togo and the Cameroons, and simultaneously put out feelers to 
France for a colonial understanding. An understanding with 
Germany presented obvious advantages to France, especially 
if it could be made general and not exclusively colonial. Ferry 
at once made overtures for such a general understanding, but 
Bismarck did not desire anything more than a colonial agree- 
ment. Ferry then suggested a European Conference. This 
was a discreet move, as it was calculated to gratify England. 
Bismarck agreed, and the result was the Berlin Conference of 
1884, the Final Act of which was dated February 1885. France 
was obliged to agree to the inclusion in the " Conventional 
Area " of large French territories, and these were to be free 
and open for the trade of all countries. On the other hand, 
she profited by the opening of the Niger, the mouth of which 
river was controlled by England. Her direct profit however 
from the Berlin Act was not equivalent to the sacrifices she 
was compelled to make. What she did secure was the acquies- 
cence of Germany in her activities in other parts of the world. 
It was not in Equatorial Africa but in Indo-China and else- 
where that she was to reap her harvest. 

By this wise and subtle policy Ferry had definitely secured 


to France a large colonial empire, without a rupture with other 
colonial Powers, and without disproportionate sacrifice. He 
had also and this was an even more important matter 
recovered for France her self-esteem. In doing so however 
he had risked his own popularity. The more timid politicians 
were terrified at the vigour of his actions, the more factious 
denounced the colonial advance as both costly and contemp- 
tible. The value of colonies was at that time but vaguely 
understood, and the public mind was easily convinced that 
money was being spent, blood spilt and risks of European 
complications run for objects which did not justify these 
sacrifices. Ferry's internal policy, in particular his educational 
measures, had been open to misinterpretation, but it was not 
these that brought about his fall ; on the contrary, it was his 
colonial policy, which now appears his principal claim to the 
gratitude of his fellow-countrymen, that drove him out of office. 

The military and naval forces of France in the Far East had 
acted with great vigour and success. Negotiations for a 
treaty with China, by which that Power should accept the 
Convention of 1883 and abandon her claims in Annam, were 
practically completed when distorted news of a French reverse 
at Langson reached Paris (March 29, 1885). This was the 
signal for the outburst of the animosity which had been gather- 
ing round Ferry. Parisian public opinion, always fierce and 
vengeful, drove the great Minister from office with execrations 
on the following day. 

Ferry, when he took office, had undertaken to deal with the 
question of constitutional revision, and from May till December 
1884 parliamentary activities were concentrated on this subject. 
Eventually the clauses regulating the election of Senators were 
withdrawn from the Constitution, so that the matter could be 
dealt with by simple legislation. Legislation was then intro- 
duced ; the principle of nomination of Senators was abandoned, 
the Senate thus becoming purely elective. The number of 
municipal delegates to the electoral college was increased, and 
in this way representation of the smaller towns in the Senate 
was considerably increased at the expense of the rural Com- 
munes (December 9, 1884). 

A prolonged crisis followed the fall of Ferry, but finally 
Brisson was prevailed upon to form a Cabinet. A disinterested, 
conscientious and dignified Republican, he was probably the 
best choice that could have been made. His Cabinet however 
was far from being homogeneous. De Freycinet went to the 
Foreign Office, Allain-Targe took Finance and Goblet Public 


Instruction, Public Worship and Beaux- Arts. Both the latter 
were adherents of the Extreme Left. But the Cabinet also in- 
cluded Carnot (Public Works), Legrand (Commerce), Cavaignac 
(War Office) and Rousseau (Colonies), who were avowed sup- 
porters of Ferry. Obviously no emphatic line of internal policy 
could be expected from a Cabinet which was little more than 
a group of distinguished public men, especially as its parlia- 
mentary majority was very uncertain. 

Brisson, with commendable courage, announced his deter- 
mination to carry through the colonial policy of his predecessor, 
and pronounced himself in favour of the " conservation of the 
national patrimony." On June 9, 1885 the Treaty of Tientsin 
brought the hostilities with China to an end. The Chinese 
evacuated Tongking, France abandoning the naval conquest of 
Admiral Courbet in Far Eastern waters. In Madagascar 
annexation seemed the only solution ; but de Freycinet was 
opposed to a step so vigorous, and the Treaty of December 5, 
1885 with the Hovas went no further than the reimposition of 
the French Protectorate. On December 24, 1885 a Treaty 
was signed with Germany, which, if it made valuable cessions 
to that Empire, at any rate denned the frontiers of the French 
and German Colonies in West Africa. But when Russia and 
England seemed to be drifting into a crisis over affairs in 
Afghanistan, and Bismarck made overtures to France, de 
Freycinet made no response. The Brisson de Freycinet 
Cabinet, in fact, seems definitely to have rejected Ferry's idea 
of closer relations with Germany ; and, since relations with 
England were growing worse rather than better, and nothing 
seemed to come of overtures made to Russia, the isolation of 
France was as complete as ever. 

The term of the Third Republican Legislature was drawing 
to an end, and, in anticipation of the elections which were due 
to take place in the autumn of 1885, the Government introduced 
a measure substituting scrutin de lisle for scrutin d'arrondisse- 
ment. This was to some extent a posthumous tribute to the 
memory of Gambetta, who had ardently championed the 
reform. The Bill was passed into law on June 8, 1885. This 
measure has been compared by its enthusiastic admirers to the 
English Reform Bill. Judged by results it was certainly nothing 
of the kind. That it was not without its dangers was shortly 
to be demonstrated, and in face of the coming Boulanger crisis 
scrutin d' arrondissement was hurriedly reimposed ; an episode 
which gave to a caustic critic of French parliamentary institu- 
tions the opportunity to remark that " the most conspicuous 


achievement of the elect of scrutin de lisle was to restore in a 
moment of panic scrutin d? arrondissement" 

The elections of the new Legislature took place in October 
1885 ; they were the first to be decided by scrutin de liste, 
and a great turnover of votes in an anti-Republican and 
reactionary direction was the result : 4,327,162 votes were 
recorded for Republican candidates, and 3,541,384 for their 
opponents. 1 This was very significant and even alarming. 
On December 28, 1885 Grevy's term of Presidential office 
expired ; he was re-elected though by a very much reduced 
majority for a further period : and on December 29 the 
Brisson Cabinet resigned. President Grevy sent for de Frey- 
cinet, who thus for the third time became President of the 
Council (January 7, 1886). De Freycinet kept his Foreign 
Office in his own hands, retained Carnot at the Ministry of 
Finance and Goblet at the Ministry of Public Instruction. 
But, as events proved, the most important appointment in 
this strangely incoherent Ministry was that of General Boulanger, 
a successful soldier who had also proved himself a highly capable 
administrator, to the Ministry of War. The somewhat wanton 
ejection of the Princes of the Blood from the army, which was 
carried out under Boulanger' s directions, brought the General 
into the public eye. The acclamation with which he was 
received when he appeared at public functions indicated a 
revulsion of feeling. That part of the French national character 
which demands something showy and gallant, and which had 
before this made it an easy prey to a military adventurer, had 
long been starved and silent. But the sudden enthusiasm 
awakened by Boulanger implied something more than this. 
It implied that patriotism and self-esteem were once more 
awake. They concentrated themselves feverishly on an un- 
worthy object. But the cheers that greeted Boulanger were 
not wholly sinister in their significance. 

De Freycinet' s Third Cabinet was not of the kind that leaves 
a mark. Apart from the rise of Boulanger its sole claim to 
fame was the educational legislation of Goblet, who built 
worthily on the foundations that Ferry had laid. The Ministry 
was placed in a minority on a question of credits for Tongking 

1 Votes oast for Republicans and Reactionaries, 1876-85 : 

Republicans. Reactionaries. 

1876 . . 4,028,153 3,202,335 

1877 . . 4,367,202 3,577,882 

1878 . . 5,128,442 1,789,767 
1885 . . 4,327,162 3,541,384 


and resigned on December 11, 1886. Grevy experienced great 
difficulty in finding a successor for de Freycinet, and it was 
only after many prominent men had been approached that he 
decided to send for Goblet, who had distinguished himself as 
Minister of Public Instruction in the retiring Government. 
Goblet retained nearly all the retiring ministers in his Cabinet, 
including Boulanger, whose popularity went on increasing until 
he completely eclipsed his colleagues. So much obloquy has 
been justly heaped on this unsuccessful upstart that it is proper 
to remember that he was not devoid of attractive qualities, 
above all an irresistible charm of manner and considerable 
proved ability. He inspired confidence, especially in the rank 
and file of the army. The danger, if it were a danger, was 
a real one. So at least thought Bismarck, who made use of 
the alarm created in Germany by the prospect of a French 
military dictator to influence the Reichstag in favour of his 
scheme for a seven years' military service. Simultaneously 
great activity was displayed on the frontier. The arrest on 
the frontier by the German authorities of a French functionary, 
M. Schnsebele, provoked great indignation, and Grevy's com- 
posed treatment of this affair procured him considerable 
unpopularity (April 1887). 

The Cabinet was much weakened by these alarms and had 
quite failed to bring together a working majority in the 
Chamber : on May 17, 1887 it found itself in a minority over 
the Budget. Grevy once more experienced great difficulty in 
finding a successor to Goblet. Twice he appealed to de Frey- 
cinet ; but, as that statesman insisted on the retention of 
Boulanger at the War Office, and the Senate, which had ranged 
itself definitely against the General, refused its support to any 
Cabinet that included him, it was necessary to look elsewhere ; 
and finally Rouvier, who had been a member of Gambetta's 
Ministry, stepped into the breach. His Cabinet had a distinct 
inclination towards the Right, and Rouvier' s appointment did 
much to alienate the more advanced Republicans from Grevy. 
The Cabinet had at least one great merit. It did not include 
Boulanger. Its conduct of affairs was dignified and efficient. 
The balancing of the Budget, thanks to rigid economies, was 
no mean feat, and a considerable and valuable scheme of army 
reform was carried out by General Ferron, the War Minister. 

The decline in the prestige of President Grevy has already 
been noted. The disclosure that his son-in-law, Wilson, had 
been engaged in traffic in the insignia of the Legion of Honour 
brought it to a head. Grevy gradually recognised that he 


could not stand against the popular clamour, and, after many 
undignified hesitations, sent in his resignation (December 1887). 
44 Peu de chutes," says a historian of the Third Republic, 44 ont 
etc aussi lugubre que celle de ce vieillard qui rentrait dans la 
foule, par une froide matinee de Decembre, avec une fortune 
augmentee et une reputation amoindrie." Grevy had been a 
respectable, wary Chief of the State, a worthy representative of 
one side of the national character ; thrifty, pacific, unostenta- 
tious, and above all constitutional. But old age had made him 
grasping. He clung to office and to the spoils of office. He 
shut himself up in the Elysee, and failed to carry out many 
of the obvious duties of a President. His sobriety and parsi- 
mony came to be a reproach to him ; for another side of the 
French character was now uppermost, and his drab establishment 
was contrasted with the ostentatious glitter of Boulanger. A 
more serious accusation against the retiring President was that 
of having completely failed to secure anything like ministerial 
stability. His great blunder had been his reluctance to trust 
Gambetta. He had attempted to govern through incoherent 
groups of distinguished men, and the result had been nine 
Cabinets in seven years. It is largely to Grevy that France 
owes the most sinister feature in her parliamentary life. 44 The 
evil that he did lived after him." 

None of the more conspicuous figures in public life had much 
hope of election to the Chief Magistracy. Both Feriy and de 
Freycinet had made too many political enemies, and the choice 
of the Congress fell on Sadi Carnot, a quiet, inconspicuous public 
man, who had done good work in several Cabinets, and was the 
grandson of the celebrated 44 Organiser of Victory." Chosen 
for his complete insignificance, Carnot proved himself an 
efficient, conscientious and dignified Chief of the State. Cold 
and austere, but not unkindly in his demeanour, his behaviour 
was always correct, and he was free from all taint of self- 
seeking ; the fact that he stood somewhat aloof from the main 
currents of party politics made it possible for him to display 
more detachment than his predecessors. The change of Presi- 
dent may therefore be reckoned an advantage to the Republic. 

Carnot assumed the functions of Chief Magistrate in difficult 
times. The presidential office was discredited ; the Republican 
Constitution was itself threatened by the dazzling tinsel figure 
of Boulanger, while the Assembly was crumbling into rival 
groups which made continuity of policy difficult, were a con- 
tinual menace to ministerial stability, and at times threatened 
to make Government impossible. With the accession of Carnot, 

F 10 


in fact, we enter on a period when parliamentary life stagnated ; 
no legislation was possible which might offend any of the 
manifold groups on which a government depended ; no ministry 
could calculate on any but the briefest term of office. Under 
these circumstances it was more and more on the President 
that fell the task of government as well as that of maintaining 
the dignity of public life. Carnot's sterling qualities enabled 
him to acquit himself with credit in this difficult task. He at 
once embarked on presidential activities, and soon demon- 
strated that his office was something more than the lucrative 
sinecure into which under his predecessor it had degenerated. 
The Tirard Cabinet, to which on December 12, 1887 Carnot 
had entrusted the Government, was at once confronted with 
the necessity of dealing with Boulanger. The General, from 
his position as Commander of the XIII Corps, was attempting 
contrary to discipline to intervene in public life. The 
Cabinet ordered an examination by a Conseil tfEnquete, which 
promptly placed him on the retired list. This roused all the 
Parliamentary Boulangists, and, aided by Clemenceau, who 
was beginning to establish his sinister reputation as a wrecker 
of Governments, they succeeded in placing Tirard in a minority 
(April 3, 1888). The Radical Ministry under Floquet which 
succeeded that of Tirard was committed to the policy of revising 
the Constitution which was also a plank in the platform of 
Boulanger. The Ministry was in fact tinged with Boulangism 
and played into the General's hands. He was elected by large 
majorities for the Dordogne and the Nord, and pressed his vague 
policy, with the support of Royalists of all shades of opinion. 
Scrutin d' arrondissement was reimposed on February 11 ; but 
his proposals for a revision of the Constitution were thrown 
out and the Ministry fell on February 22, 1889, giving place to 
a second Tirard Ministry. To this Ministry belongs the credit 
of finally dealing with the Boulangist danger. Profiting by the 
parliamentary paralysis, the General had defined his programme 
to the extent of demanding an increase of the presidential 
powers on American lines. On January 29 he had been 
vehemently acclaimed by the Paris crowds. A coup d'etat 
seemed imminent ; but the Ministry, under the courageous 
influence of Constans, the Minister of Interior, grasped the 
nettle. The " League of Patriots," a hot-bed of Boulangism, 
was prosecuted ; and on March 29 the Senate, which had 
steadily set its face against Boulangism, was constituted a 
High Court for the trial of offences " against the security of 
the State." This was enough for the General, who fled 


incontinently to Belgium (April 1), and thence (April 24) to 

This was the real end of the conspiracy against the Republic, 
which, in spite of its levity and the vaudeville atmosphere in 
which it had been carried on, had been a serious danger. The 
General and his principal lieutenants were tried by the High 
Court in their absence, and condemned to deportation and 
confinement in a fortress (August 14) ; but Boulanger never 
returned to France. This happy end to an ugly menace was 
due to the firm measures of the Tirard Cabinet, and especially 
of Constans, and to the determined line taken by the Senate. 

The most important legislation of the year 1889 was the 
Military Law of July 18, which organised the system of three 
years' service. Every French citizen was made liable to three 
years in the active army, ten years in its reserve, six years in 
the territorial army and six in its reserve. But a great many 
categories of men were partially exempted, and made liable to 
one year only. The military peace-strength of the Republic 
under this law was brought up to 557,000 men. 

The term of the Legislature elected in 1885 was reached in 
the summer of 1889, and the elections for the new Legislature 
took place in September and October. Boulangism made a last 
effort, but was utterly routed, and the result 359 Republican 
deputies to 211 reactionaries was a great triumph for Republi- 
canism and a confirmation by the electorate of the actions of 
the Tirard Cabinet, which retained office until March 1, 1890. 

During this long period of crisis the reputation and popularity 
of Carnot had been steadily increasing. It had been fortunate 
for him that his accession to office had been contemporaneous 
with the opening of a period of great material prosperity, the 
extent of which was demonstrated to the world in the great 
International Exhibition held in Paris in 1889, an event which 
gratified French self-esteem and helped to allay the sense of 
unrest that had characterised the prolonged Boulanger episode. 

The fourth de Freycinet Cabinet, which held office from 
March 17, 1890 to February 27, 1892, and in which the President 
of the Council occupied the Ministry of War, included many 
eminent men ; but its internal activities were inconsiderable. 
In the region of foreign politics its operations were epoch- 
making, for it was able to bring France for the first time since 
1871 into treaty relations with a European Great Power 
Russia. It is sometimes, for this reason, known as the " Kron- 
stadt Cabinet." A drawing together between these two Powers 
had for long been the aim of the wisest French statesmen. 


There had been many acts of goodwill, but nothing resembling 
overtures for an alliance. In 1891 however the opportunity 
came. France was now accumulating wealth, while Russia 
was in great need of capital for the development of her vast 
natural resources ; and it was by means of Russian loans 
floated in Paris that the first approaches were made to Russia. 
In July 1891 a French naval squadron was sent to Kronstadt 
and received with marked enthusiasm. Taking advantage of 
the authority conferred on him to negotiate treaties, Carnot 
clinched matters, and on August 27, 1891 a secret defensive 
treaty was signed between France and Russia. France thus 
emerged from her isolation, and stood on a level with the other 
Great Powers. She had ceased to be a leper. Moreover a 
great step had been taken towards the re-establishment of the 
equilibrium of Europe. 

Meanwhile colonial problems were not being neglected. In 
West Africa Dahomey had been invaded and a treaty concluded 
(October 3, 1890). An advance had also been made down the 
Niger. In East Africa the British design for a Cape to Cairo 
route was being evolved ; this implied the conquest of the 
Egyptian Sudan, then held by the Mahdists, and ran counter 
to the Nilotic projects which France had long cherished, as well 
as to those of King Leopold. The latter sought to finance his 
grandiose projects by pledging the Congo territories to Belgium. 
This in turn affected France, because she had a right of pre- 
emption over those territories. In a treaty of August 5, 1890 
an attempt was made to settle some of the questions out- 
standing between France and England. France agreed to the 
partition of Zanzibar ; and the English sphere of influence on 
the lower Niger was defined, a step which made the French 
West African Empire a reality ; England recognised the French 
Protectorate in Madagascar, and in this recognition she was 
followed by Germany. 

This treaty marks a definite endeavour on the part of France 
to draw closer to England ; not content with the rapprochement 
with Russia, her statesmen had the full development of the 
Triple Entente already at heart. But the treaty of 1890 was 
also significant for what was left unsettled. The Egyptian and 
Sudanese questions were untouched ; and no attempt was made 
to adjust points which had long been at issue in Newfoundland 
and Oceania. Clearly therefore there still remained outstanding 
difficulties between the two countries. 

The signature of the Russian Treaty at once eased the 
colonial situation, and a great era of French exploration opened. 


French expeditions had already pushed up the Ubangi and the 
Sanga, northern tributaries of the Congo. Dybowski and 
Maistre explored the Logone, and Mizon the Upper Congo by 
way of the Niger (1891-3). The efforts of the celebrated French 
explorer Binger had already (1885-7) opened up the country 
between Senegal and the Ivory Coast ; and in 1890-2 Monteil 
had made a wonderful march from the Sudan via the Niger to 
Tripoli. In 1892 Dodds subdued Dahomey, captured Abomey 
(November 17) and marched to the Niger. 

The internal policy of the fourth de Freycinet Cabinet was of 
less moment than the external. It had announced itself as a 
religious peace-maker, and an easier religious situation was 
created when in January 1892 Leo XIII recognised the 
Republic. This was unfortunately marred by the marked anti- 
clericalism of the ensuing Ministry. On January 1, 1892 a new 
general tariff was introduced, which ranged France among the 
closely protected countries. 

The fall of the de Freycinet Ministry, and the advent of 
M. Loubet to power on February 27, 1892, opened a period of 
considerable internal unrest, during which ministry succeeded 
ministry with bewildering rapidity, Loubet (February 27 
December 6, 1892), Ribot (December 6, 1892 April 6, 1893), 
Dupuy (April 6 December 2, 1893) and Casimir-Perier 
(December 2, 1893 May 29, 1894), rising and falling in quick 
succession. Anarchist plots and dynamite explosions created 
much disarray, and the Panama scandals, which first came to 
light in 1892, undermined public life and caused the fall of the 
Loubet Ministry. The denunciation for corruption of men 
holding conspicuous positions in public life was bad enough ; 
but it was worse that, with few exceptions, these men were 
never punished, and that the scandals were never properly 
cleared up. France sank into a despairing acceptance of the 
inevitability of corrupt practices in public life. 

The appearance in parliamentary life, after the elections of 
1893, of a compact group of Socialist deputies was a further 
embarrassment to the Government. Hitherto the activities of 
the Socialists had been extra-parliamentary. The extreme 
Marxist demands had met with resistance in the party itself, 
and a group of " possibilists," who advocated gradual advance 
rather than revolutionary upheaval, had broken away. 
Ministers, conspicuous amongst whom was Gambetta's colleague 
Waldeck- Rousseau, had legislated to satisfy Socialist demands. 
Trade Unions had been legalised, and Workers' Co-operative 
Societies sanctioned. In July 1890 advanced demands had 


been put forward by the Revolutionary Labour Party and 
backed by the threat of a general strike. The Government had 
responded with legislation designed to improve the conditions 
of labour, providing for safety in mines (July 1890), creating 
a Supreme Labour Council (1891) and by preparing a plan 
for pensions. 

These concessions provoked a certain reaction amongst the 
bourgeois, who turned to Carnot, Constans, Ribot and Ferry 
as moderate men. The Church, acting on a signal from the 
Pope, propounded a scheme of Christian Socialism, and by at 
last recognising the Republic re-entered to some extent at 
least the arena of constructive politics. 

The anarchist outbreaks of the years 1893 and 1894 were 
not inspired by French Socialists, but tended to discredit 
Socialism. A climax was reached when President Carnot was 
assassinated at Lyons by an Italian anarchist on June 25, 1894. 
Carnot had by his quiet dignity and transparent honesty of 
purpose greatly added to the prestige of his high office, and 
his untimely death at the hands of a fanatic was universally 
and sincerely mourned. 

These troubled years, during which the instability of ministries 
had been a perpetual hindrance to internal progress, had not 
been without external successes. Of these the most important 
was the military agreement with Russia, concluded on 
December 27, 1893. In Indo-China France had dealt 
rigorously with a threatened attack by Siam, and on July 29, 
1893 had imposed terms on that Power. A further treaty 
with Siam (October 3, 1893) had established the River Mekong 
as the boundary between that country and French Indo-China. 
With England an agreement of July 31, 1893 arranged for a 
neutral zone between the possessions of the two Powers, where 
they met north of Siam. In Africa the seizure of Dahomey in 
December 1892 had been followed by its erection into a colony 
(March 1893). Early in 1894 Bonnier and Joffre led an 
expedition to Timbuktu. The exploration of the Rivers Benue 
and Ubangi and of the Lake Chad district had continued, and 
treaties defining boundaries had been concluded with Liberia 
(December 8, 1892), and with Britain as to the Gold Coast and 
Ivory Coast (July 12, 1893). 

The extension of the French Congo seemed however to be 
threatened by the several activities of Britain, Germany and 
King Leopold. Britain and Germany had concluded a treaty 
on November 15, 1893, which extended the German sphere of 
influence between the lower Niger and the Bahr el Ghazal. 


King Leopold's ambitions were also drawing him in the direction 
of the Nile. France thus began to feel herself hemmed in in 
her Congo colony, and negotiations were opened with Germany 
and with King Leopold. The latter were unsuccessful ; but 
on May 15, 1894 Germany and France agreed as to the eastern 
frontier of the Cameroons, France obtaining definite access to 
Lake Chad. King Leopold meanwhile had been negotiating 
with England, and a treaty of May 14, 1894 had given to the 
King personally a lease for life of the Lado enclave, and to the 
Congo State a lease of part of the Bahr el Ghazal, England 
receiving a strip of territory between Lakes Albert and Tangan- 
yika, essential for her Cape-to-Cairo enterprise. At the same 
moment an Anglo-Italian agreement was published which placed 
Abyssinia in the Italian sphere of influence. These treaties 
constituted an encirclement of the French colonies in two vital 
directions. Much more was involved hi this than mere 
delimitations of spheres of influence in the wilds of Africa. By 
cutting France off from the Bahr el Ghazal, England deliberately 
challenged the aspirations long cherished by France of reaching 
the Upper Nile, and thus reopened the Egyptian question. This 
in turn reacted on the much larger question of European 

The French alliance with Russia had not fully restored the 
equilibrium of Europe. The most far-sighted of French states- 
men, such as Thiers and Gambetta, had long recognised that 
this restoration would only be effected when England identified 
herself with Russia and France. The question was now posed 
whether the colonial differences between France and England 
admitted of a solution or whether they must drive France into 
the arms of Germany. Clearly the decision would have to be 
taken : whether it was worth while to abandon the idea of an 
English alliance for the sake of the French Nilotic aspirations, 
or whether a solution could be found whereby French suscepti- 
bilities might be satisfied by compensation elsewhere, and the 
alliance consummated which alone could give to Europe equi- 
librium and to France the sense of security she was always 
seeking. These were questions which admitted of no cut-and- 
dried solution ; for long they hung in the balance ; and they 
produced two schools of diplomacy in France, the first 
identified with the name of Hanotaux, who became Foreign 
Minister in the Second Dupuy Ministry (May 29, 1894) 
regarding accommodation with England as impossible, and 
consequently drawing towards Germany ; and the second, 
whose champion was Delcasse, refusing to reject the hope of a 


satisfactory solution of the Anglo-French colonial problems and 
clinging to the idea of the triple Entente. It is this conflict of 
persons and ideas that constitutes the interest of French 
diplomatic history during the ensuing nine years. 



CASIMIR-PERIER, who succeeded Carnot as President of the 
Republic on June 27, 1894, was a distinguished man and came 
of a distinguished family. In many respects his election was 
a new departure. He was a young man, who, apart from a 
recent brief period at the head of a ministry, had not played a 
specially conspicuous part in political life. He was also 
notoriously a strong man with pronounced views, little likely 
to content himself with a position of powerless dignity. He was 
also a capitalist, with large interests in coal-mines, and his 
family had long been engaged in business ; his election was 
therefore a strong indication of the bourgeois reaction against 
socialism. Endowed with many fine qualities, Casimir-Perier 
lacked just those demanded for the position he was now called 
upon to occupy. He was sensitive, impatient of criticism and 
eager to make a mark on public life, ill-adapted therefore for 
the routine of dignified and tedious functions to which Carnot 
had applied himself with industrious patience. 

He was at once venomously attacked by the Socialists ; to 
such an attack his position as a capitalist and a large employer 
of labour rendered him specially vulnerable. The anti- 
anarchist measures of the second Dupuy Ministry, which held 
office from May 1894 to January 1895, were used as a weapon 
against him, and denounced as an attack on liberty. Receiving 
little protection from his ministers, despairing of making his 
office effective, and not unreasonably indignant at the gross 
attacks to which he was subjected, Casimir-Perier resigned the 
Presidency six months after he had accepted it (January 15, 

The choice of the Congress assembled to elect a successor to 
Casimir-Perier fell upon Felix Faure at that moment Minister 
of Marine a successful business man from Havre. Faure had 


few great qualities, but occupied the Elysee until his death in 
1899. Though a bourgeois by extraction, as was his predecessor, 
he was quite willing to accept the legend that he had risen from 
the position of a working tanner. There was as much truth in 
this as there would have been in the assumption that Carnot 
had been a working carpenter. Both men had learnt trades as 
part of their training. But the fiction enabled Faure to escape 
the unpopularity which had overwhelmed his predecessor. The 
years of Faure' s presidency were most critical and troubled, 
and it is difficult not to suppose that a President of more 
character, one such as Carnot or even such as Casimir-Perier, 
would have brought France through with less loss of dignity 
and self-esteem. 

The Ribot Cabinet, to which Faure entrusted the government, 
held office from January to November 189,5, Hanotaux retaining 
the Foreign Office portfolio, which he had assumed in May 1894, 
and foreign policy being definitely directed towards an under- 
standing with Germany. On Ribot' s fall an avowedly Radical 
Ministry under Leon Bourgeois assumed office, in which Hano- 
taux was not included. This Ministry was short-lived. Any 
Radical Cabinet was bound to introduce proposals for a tax on 
incomes, and France has an ineradicable dislike to the prying 
into private affairs which such a tax involves. Consequently 
when the Leon Bourgeois Ministry proposed this tax it committed 
suicide (April 1896) and was replaced (April 29) by a Cabinet 
presided over by Meline. 

The period from May 1894 to April 1896 saw the development 
of a new policy in Africa. Hanotaux conceived that the Egyptian 
and Nilotic questions between France and England could not 
be allowed to go on drifting, that it would be more profitable to 
bring them to a head. Therefore when, in September 1895, a 
French captain of Marines, Marchand, asked permission to lead 
an expedition from the Gabun through the heart of Africa to the 
Nile, the Foreign Office favoured the idea in spite of opposition 
from the Colonial Office. It was by the Bourgeois Ministry, 
in which Berthelot was Foreign Minister, that permission was 
given for the expedition to start (February 24, 1896), and by 
this time the positions had been reversed, the orders proceeding 
from the Colonial Office, while the Foreign Office remained 
indifferent. Almost at the same moment (March 12, 1896) 
Kitchener received his orders to march on Dongola. The 
length and difficulties of the march of Marchand' s small band 
on the one hand and the necessary slowness of the advance of 
a large army on the other, involved a long pause before the issue 


could be actually joined ; but from the moment when the 
orders were given to Marchand to advance, an eventual clash 
between England and France on the Nile was inevitable. The 
English expedition was one of conquest and occupation, that 
of France was a mere diplomatic move. The Italian defeat at 
Adua (March 1, 1896) gave an opening for a tiny supplementary 
French expedition towards the Nile by way of Abyssinia ; but 
this came to nothing. 

Meanwhile and pending the bursting of this carefully pre- 
pared storm relations with England were not unfriendly. On 
January 15, 1896 an agreement between the two countries for 
the delimitation of frontiers in Nigeria and Indo-China was 
arranged. Almost at the same moment France took a decided 
step in Madagascar, the French Protectorate giving place to 
actual possession of the island, though the word " annexation " 
was for the time being carefully repudiated. 

In the Meline Cabinet, which came into power on April 29, 
1896, and held office for the unusual period of two years, 
Hanotaux resumed the portfolio of Foreign Affairs. This period 
saw important movements in the Far East. France embarked 
on a policy of development in Indo-China ; and the opening up 
of Yunnan and Southern China began. This at once brought 
France into rivalry with other European Powers, and the 
process of exacting concessions from China soon became general. 
In March 1898 Germany landed troops at Kiaochow, and 
obtained a lease of that place from China ; Russia and Britain 
replied by seizing Port Arthur and Wei-hai-wei respectively ; and 
on April 10, 1898 France obtained Kwangchow. 

In Madagascar the ambiguous prise de possession was con- 
verted into a definite annexation on May 30, 1896 ; Gallieni 
landed in September and deposed the Queen. In West Africa 
also there was a renewal of activity. On July 23, 1897 a 
Treaty with Germany defined the frontiers of Togo, while on 
June 14, 1898 the boundaries of the Gold Coast and Nigeria 
were further defined in an Anglo-French Agreement. 

In Europe itself the intimate relations between France and 
Russia were emphasised by an interchange of visits between the 
Tsar and President Faure (October 1896 and August 1897) ; 
an easier situation was established between France and Italy ; 
while relations between France and Germany became decidedly 
warmer. Hanotaux may have contemplated a real agreement 
with Germany directed against England ; but just at the 
critical moment the Meline Cabinet fell (June 14, 1898), and 
Delcasse replaced Hanotaux at the Foreign Office. 


Meline was chiefly identified with agriculture and protective 
duties, and has been called the " French Mackinley." But his 
period of office was completely overshadowed by the terrible 
Affaire Dreyfus, the greatest of the many scandals that have 
afflicted the Third Republic. As the Panama scandals demon- 
strated the appalling corruption of public life, the Dreyfus 
scandal demonstrated the lamentable indifference of public 
men to truth, honour and justice when political considerations 
and religious prejudices were involved ; and the saddest thing 
of all was that it demonstrated the obliquity not only of politi- 
cians of whom obliquity was by this time expected but also 
of highly-placed officers of the army of whom it was not. 

The clerical reaction, the early stages of which have already 
been noted, was developing fast in 1894, and had taken a 
most unfortunate direction. Anti-Semitism had been one of 
Boulanger's cries ; it was taken up by the Church and obtained 
a stronghold on the country. In December 1894 a Jewish 
officer of the General Staff, Captain Dreyfus, had been con- 
demned by a court-martial, degraded, and, by a special law 
passed on February 9, 1895, imprisoned on a rock off the coast 
of French Guiana. The charge against him was that of com- 
municating military secrets to Germany. It was not generally 
recognised that the trial had been most irregular, and that 
documents tending to establish the guilt of Dreyfus had been 
privately communicated to the judges by the War Office. In 
1896 the Chief of the Intelligence Bureau of the War Office, 
Colonel Picquart, discovered evidence of treasonable relations 
between a certain Major Esterhazy and the German Military 
Attache, and was startled to find that the writing of Esterhazy 
closely resembled that of the famous " bordereau " which had 
been the principal evidence against Dreyfus. Picquart urged 
his superiors to reopen the question, but was advised by 
them to let sleeping dogs lie. He was then despatched on a 
mission to Tunis (November 1896), and letters forged in the 
War Office and designed to compromise him were addressed to 
him there. 

Various wise and honourable men were by this time convinced 
of the innocence of Dreyfus, amongst whom the most con- 
spicuous was Scheurer Kestner, Vice-President of the Senate. 
Scheurer Kestner approached his friend General Billot, then 
Minister for War, without success. During the whole of 1897 
the most unscrupulous warfare was carried on against all who 
demanded the reopening of the case, and forgery became an 
everyday employment of certain officials of the War Office, 


amongst whom was Colonel Henry, Picquart's successor as 
Chief of the Intelligence Bureau. 

In January 1898 Ester hazy was tried by court-martial 
and acquitted, while Picquart was imprisoned. On January 13 
the famous author Zola published an article accusing officers 
of the War Office of gross offences against honour and justice. 
He was tried and condemned to one year's imprisonment and 
a fine of 3,000 francs, but the verdict was annulled. Meline 
had stubbornly sided with the War Office, declining to " bring 
before a jury the honour of the chiefs of the army," and refusing 
to say whether documents had been communicated to the 
Dreyfus court-martial without the knowledge of the accused. 
On June 14, 1898 his Ministry fell, leaving France in a condition 
of complete internal demoralisation. 

The Radical Ministry of Brisson which took office ordered 
a revision of the trial, but Cavaignac, who had become Minister 
for War, declared his belief in the guilt of Dreyfus, reading in 
the Chamber as conclusive evidence a document which was after- 
wards found to be a forgery of a certain Fleury. The second 
Dupuy Ministry, which replaced that of Brisson on November 
1, 1898, was anti-Dreyfusard, and encouraged obstruction, so 
that by the beginning of 1899 no definite step had been taken. 
In the midst of this turmoil President Faure died (February 16, 
1899). Faure had failed to extract the country from the hideous 
entanglement of the Affaire Dreyfus, and had done nothing to 
increase the prestige of the presidential office. 

During the last seven months of Faure' s presidency the 
Foreign Office had been occupied continuously by Delcasse. 
He was at once confronted with the important question whether 
the policy of rapprochement with Germany which Hanotaux had 
pursued should be continued or abandoned ; for a German 
Note had just reached the Quai d'Orsay in which France was 
invited to agree with Germany on the subject of the Portuguese 
African colonies. Delcasse' s failure to answer this Note signified 
a complete reversal of Hanotaux' policy. From that moment 
French diplomacy started on the road which ultimately led to 
the Entente of 1903. 

The opportunity for a settlement with England was not long 
in coming. The clash on the Nile which had been so long impend- 
ing occurred in the autumn of 1898. On September 2 Kitchener 
won the battle of Omdurman, and a few days later found himself 
confronted with Marchand at Fashoda. In this crisis Delcasse* 
did not hesitate to take the unpopular but wise and indeed 
inevitable course of bowing to force majeure, and on November 4, 


1898 Marchand was ordered to withdraw. By this withdrawal 
Delcasse removed the one vital obstacle to friendship with 
England. The question of Egypt once out of the way, the 
obstacles that remained, though numerous, were none of them 
beyond the powers of diplomacy. Such was the international 
position when President Faure died and Emile Loubet, an 
inconspicuous but sincere Republican, was elected to succeed 

France was still in the throes of the Affaire Dreyfus ; but 
fortunately a wave of returning sanity now set in ; men were 
beginning to realise not only that they had been deceived over 
the Dreyfus case but also that France was suffering grave 
discredit in consequence of it in the eyes of the world. A fresh 
start, a liquidation of the Affaire and a revival of governmental 
stability became therefore the main object of patriotic French- 
men. It was to carry out this design that, after a brief Dupuy 
Ministry (November 1, 1898 June 22, 1899), Waldeck-Rousseau, 
who had taken little part in public affairs since his short tenure 
of the Ministry of Interior in Gambetta's Cabinet, was called to 
preside over a government in which men of widely different 
political opinions were included. Such a composite ministry 
was only too common in France ; but Waldeck-Rousseau' s 
Ministry had this advantage, that its members and supporters 
were united in a determination to make an end of the Dreyfus 
trouble. Waldeck-Rousseau was a barrister of conspicuous 
ability, endowed with a cool head and a judicial impartiality 
rare in French statesmen ; he kept his motley Cabinet together 
for three years, dissipated the Dreyfus nightmare and restored 
to France the prosperity which she was losing and the prestige 
which she seemed already to have lost. 

Orders for the re-trial of the Dreyfus case had been issued in 
August 1898 ; but it was only after a year's delay that the 
convict was brought before a fresh court-martial at Rennes. 
Intimidated by the presence and testimony of distinguished 
officers, this court-martial once more condemned Dreyfus, but 
this time only by a majority of five to two. The Ministry then 
intervened, and invited the President to use his prerogative of 
mercy. On June 13, 1900 Dreyfus was pardoned, and a general 
amnesty decreed. It was a somewhat shameful ending to a 
shameful episode ; but the Affaire had got so far out of the 
regions of justice and into those of politics, and had so inflamed 
passions and divided the country, that this was probably the 
best, perhaps the only, solution. 

France had greatly degraded herself in the eyes of the world, 


and had lost much of her self-reliance ; and, when people realised 
how insane their conduct had been, the Church, which had 
certainly played a most unworthy part in the scandal, was made 
the scape-goat. In particular a strong set was made against the 
Jesuits, and against Religious Congregations in general, and 
Waldeck-Rousseau was forced by public opinion to introduce 
legislation to put the law with regard to Associations lay and 
religious on a more definite footing. To understand what 
followed it is necessary to realise that France has always looked 
askance on Associations of all kinds, and that the Revolutionary 
and Napoleonic legislation had, with very few exceptions, refused 
to give legal recognition to Associations. The vast ramifica- 
tion of religious orders in France had thus for the most part no 
legal existence, and lived on sufferance, liable at any moment to 
dissolution. Waldeck-Rousseau' s law of July 1, 1901 gave a 
recognised legal status to all Associations, with certain neces- 
sary exceptions, on condition that they declared and registered 
themselves ; it also imposed certain restrictions on the amount 
of property they could hold, and provided that they could be 
dissolved by the Council of Ministers. The law of 1901 was 
essentially a liberating as well as a regularising measure, and 
one which had the approval of a large majority of Frenchmen. 
A clause (xiv) was introduced into the Bill by Parliament, for- 
bidding members of unauthorised Congregations to take part 
in teaching. 

The concordat between all shades of Republicans that 
Waldeck-Rousseau had been able to bring about, and the 
consequent stability of the Government, had a salutary effect 
on every branch of public life. Valuable measures strengthening 
the navy and organising a colonial army stabilised the inter- 
national position of France. A high pitch of internal prosperity 
was reached. The opening up of colonial markets, thanks to 
the consolidation of the Colonies and to a great increase in the 
mercantile marine, gave encouragement to trade ; wealth 
increased ; and foreign policy, under the firm and experienced 
guidance of Delcasse, who held office continuously from June 
1898 till June 1905, advanced with sure steps along definite 
lines. The Alliance with Russia was strengthened by the visits 
of the French Foreign Minister to St. Petersburg in 1899 and 
1901, and in the latter year the Tsar was tumultuously acclaimed 
in Paris. 

In the Colonies great activity was displayed in West and 
Equatorial Africa. The French West African Colonies were 
consolidated by a decree of October 17, 1899 ; and on June 27, 


1900 France and Spain came to an agreement as to the frontiers 
of Rio Muni and Rio d'Oro. The only frontier that remained 
undefined in this quarter of the globe was that of Morocco, and 
there sporadic anarchy prevailed. Delcasse* was not slow to 
perceive that it was in Morocco that compensation might 
approximately be found for the injury France had suffered in 
Egypt at the hands of England. He therefore adopted a 
stiffer attitude in this quarter. Spain and Italy were the 
Powers most directly interested ; Spain's attitude seemed 
conciliatory, and Italy agreed not to interfere in Morocco if 
France would leave her a free hand in Tripoli. In June 1901 
an arrangement was made for mixed commissions to assist the 
Sherman Government in keeping order. The accession of 
Edward VII (January 1901) to the English throne led to an 
immediate improvement of the relations between England and 
France, and when in that year the Sherman Government sounded 
the British Government as to the possibility of a British Pro- 
tectorate over Morocco they were promptly referred to France. 
French expeditions meanwhile had been using the newly- com- 
pleted railway from Oran as a base for the penetration of the 
southward oases, and had done so in conjunction with the 
Sherifian Government. This penetration was subsequently 
completed by General Lyautey in 1903. 

In Asia French policy had been somewhat less successful. 
France had borne her share in the intervention in China con- 
sequent on the Boxer troubles of 1900. But the Anglo-Japanese 
treaty of January 30, 1902 directed as it was against France's 
ally Russia was something of a set-back, and seemed to dis- 
courage the idea of the Anglo-French agreement which was the 
goal of Delcasse's diplomacy. On the other hand, England had 
adopted a distinctly conciliatory attitude over Siamese questions. 




WALDECK-ROUSSEAU'S remarkable success in consolidating the 
Republican groups in support of his Ministry acted like a charm 
on the Legislature. Quite suddenly it entered upon a period 
of fruitful social legislation, most of which was inspired by 


Millerand, the Socialist occupant of the Ministry of Commerce. 
A Labour Bureau was set up, and various measures regulating 
the hours of labour adopted, a ten-hours' day being finally 
ordained in 1904. Labour Councils were established (January 2, 
1901) to deal with disputes between employers and employed ; 
a Workshops Act was passed on December 29, 1900, regulating 
the conditions of labour, and measures dealing with the housing 
of the working-classes were also carried. The Ministry of 
Waldeck-Rousseau was thus abnormally fruitful, both at home 
and abroad. On June 3, 1902 however reasons of health 
obliged the President of the Council to resign, and power un- 
fortunately passed to politicians of a much narrower type. 

The wise and stable measures and administration of Waldeck- 
Rousseau had shown how quickly France responded to firm 
government. In three years the country had to all appearance 
recovered from the chaos and degradation into which it had 
been plunged by the Dreyfus scandal. It was now to be shown 
how quickly a feeble Government could revive all the troubles 
that seemed to have been dispersed. Combes, who succeeded 
Waldeck-Rousseau in June 1902, was a weak and acid man, 
and his Government proved to be the worst of the many bad 
governments the Third Republic had had to endure. This was 
not so much on account of any deliberate policy as because it 
submitted to the dictation of a Parliamentary Committee of 
the groups of the Left, which Combes allowed to come into being 
as a support to his Government, but which soon took the lead 
away from the Ministry and forced its hand. 

The name of Combes is chiefly associated with the dispersal 
of the Religious and Teaching Orders. This was accomplished 
by stiffening and distorting Waldeck-Rousseau' s law of July 
1, 1901, the Government in this taking the orders of the 
Parliamentary Committee. On June 27, 1902 the Religious 
Associations which had come into being without permission 
since the enactment of the law were dissolved ; and in the 
following month 3,000 Associations that had not registered 
themselves suffered the same fate. A law of March 1903 
disposed of those that had applied for registration, and on 
July 5, 1904 the Teaching Orders were dispersed. Waldeck- 
Rousseau had intended peace, Combes had drawn the sword. 
The religious split in France was not only reopened but im- 
mensely widened, and the Catholic world and the Vatican felt 
themselves outraged. The death of Leo XIII on July 30, 
1903 and the succession of the narrow and impolitic Pius X 
greatly accentuated the trouble. The visit of President Loubet 


to the Quirinal in April 1904, necessary as it was in order to 
secure the valuable acquiescence of Italy in the Moroccan pro- 
jects of France, then reaching a crisis, came at a most inoppor- 
tune moment in the religious strife. Pius X refused to receive 
the President, and on May 21 the French Ambassador to the 
Vatican was recalled. The way to a complete breach with the 
Holy See was thus opened. 

Combes however went too far in his subservience to the 
anti-clerical extremists, and brought about his own downfall 
by an excess of zeal. The discovery that through the Free- 
masons and the prefets and sous-prlfets the Government was 
carrying on anti-clerical espionage alienated even those whom 
Combes was seeking to propitiate, with the result that on 
January 19, 1905 he was forced to resign. 

Combes' Government had touched very great depths of 
degradation in its religious policy ; but this had not been its 
only sinister activity. Andre, the Minister for War, had begun 
by his intrigues to undermine the military strength of the 
country, and he also introduced a measure for the reduction of 
the term of service to two years, a proposal which greatly 
prejudiced the policy of Delcasse, who at that very moment 
found himself challenged by Germany in Morocco. The Emperor 
William's theatrical visit to Tangier in March 1905 almost 
coincided with the introduction of Andre's proposals. 

Curiously enough it was during the term of office of this 
despicable Ministry that the final steps were taken in the long 
march towards an agreement with England. Delcasse had 
remained at the Foreign Office, forgetful of the politicians and 
by the politicians forgot, and had continued to weave the 
strands of his long-considered policy. The accession to the 
British throne of Edward VII and the change of ministry in 
England in July 1902, which brought Balfour and Lansdowne 
into power, had greatly assisted him in his task. On May 1, 
1903 King Edward visited Paris ; and the result of his visit 
was the signature, in October of that year, of a treaty by 
which Britain and France agreed to submit to The Hague 
Tribunal all differences that might arise between them on 
certain specified classes of subjects. In April of the following 
year a series of agreements embracing practically all the ques- 
tions outstanding between France and England was made 
public. These treaties covered Siam, where both Powers 
repudiated the idea of annexations and agreed as to zones of 
influence ; the New Hebrides ; Madagascar, where England 
withdrew her objections to French tariffs in return for the 

F 11 


French acceptance of the English schemes with regard to 
Zanzibar ; Newfoundland, where France abandoned the fishing 
privileges which had been secured to her by the Treaty of 
Utrecht ; West Africa, where England agreed to modifications 
of the Gambian and Nigerian frontiers and abandoned the 
lies de Los. Finally, the Egyptian and Moroccan questions 
were set off the one against the other ; England with certain 
reserves as to Spanish interests agreeing to countenance 
French projects in Morocco provided no commercial restric- 
tions were imposed, while France agreed not to interfere with 
England in Egypt. 

Thus the long-drawn-out policy of rapprochement with 
England, on which the security of France and the equilibrium 
of Europe depended, and which had at times seemed quite 
hopeless, was at length accomplished. It was a signal triumph 
for the patience and determination of Delcasse. It meant far 
more than the establishment of France in Morocco and the 
completion of her Empire across the Mediterranean and 
indeed it was soon to be demonstrated that this latter end had 
not yet been reached it meant the definite establishment of 
an adequate counterweight in Europe to the menace of the 
Triplice. For, though there was no definite treaty of alliance, 
France now felt the events of 1914 showed how nearly she 
was wrong in her judgement that, in the event of a European 
crisis, she could rely on Britain as well as on Russia. 

The Entente was almost at once subjected to a very severe 
strain by the outbreak in 1904 of the Russo-Japanese War 
and the North Sea incident, when the Russian fleet fired on 
some British fi,shing-craft, mistaking them for enemy torpedo 
craft. But it stood the test ; France acted the part of mediator 
between two Powers which cherished traditional enmity but 
with both of which she was friendly. The matter was sub- 
mitted to an international Court at Paris and amicably settled ; 
a great triumph for international good sense and for the newly- 
established Entente, which may very probably be credited with 
the avoidance of a European conflagration in 1904. 

Germany however was by this time fully aroused to colonial 
ambitions, and not inclined to accept a French domination of 
Morocco. She was aware of the agreement between England 
and France, and of a further agreement between France and 
Spain (October 1904), by which the zone of Spanish influence 
in Morocco had been considerably reduced. She was aware 
also that France had despatched a mission to Fez and was 
about to take active measures for the restoration of order in 


Morocco. She proceeded therefore to strew the path of 
France with difficulties, and in March 1905 William II visited 
Tangier and ostentatiously greeted the Sultan as an indepen- 
dent sovereign. Pressure was brought to bear on that dis- 
tracted potentate, and he was persuaded to appeal to all the 
Powers which had been parties to the Madrid Conference in 
July 1880. Delcasse, who had retained office in the Rouvier 
Cabinet that had replaced the Cabinet of Combes, with great 
courage and determination advocated resistance to this demand. 
He believed in the sincerity of British goodwill ; he knew that 
Italy would not support Germany if matters came to a head ; 
and he did not believe that Germany would press the Morocco 
question to the extremity of war. The Rouvier Cabinet how- 
ever alarmed no doubt at the weakness betrayed by Russia 
in her conflict with Japan did not support the Foreign Minis- 
ter, with the result that on June 6, 1905 Delcass6 resigned. 
His services to France had been incalculable. By coolness, 
patience and persistence he had accomplished what had 
seemed impossible, and Europe may well recognise in him the 
statesman who was chiefly instrumental in building up the 
combination which saved the world from German domination 
in 1914. For the moment he had failed, and France had to 
submit to the humiliation of dismissing a minister practically 
at the nod of the Kaiser. Many things had combined to bring 
about this incident : the collapse of Russia at Moukden (March 
1905) ; the effect on the French army of Andre's reduction 
of the term of service to two years (March 17, 1905) ; the 
wave of pacifism and internationalism that was sweeping over 
France ; above all perhaps Delcasse' s own detachment and 
the consequent want of solidarity in the Cabinet. 

Rouvier himself took up Delcasse's work at the Quai d'Orsay. 
He accepted Germany's suggestion of a Conference on Moroccan 
affairs, and endeavoured at first unsuccessfully to persuade 
her to come to a preliminary agreement with France. Ulti- 
mately (July 8, 1905) Germany agreed not to cross the interests 
of France in Morocco provided the independence of the 
Sultan and the integrity of his dominions were not impaired. 
This did not prevent her however from embarking on a com- 
mercial and financial penetration of Morocco, which was in 
itself a threat to French interests. 

On January 16, 1906 the Moroccan Conference assembled at 
Algeciras. France did not enter it without the advantage of 
powerful support. Russia and the Mediterranean Powers 
grouped themselves around her ; England, in virtue of her 


recent agreement with France on the subject of Morocco ; Russia 
(now, by the treaty signed at Portsmouth, U.S.A. on Sep- 
tember 5, 1905, clear of her entanglements in the Far East), 
as a treaty-bound ally ; Spain, because as a Power in possession 
like France of territories contiguous to Morocco, her in- 
terests in that country were akin to those of France. Moreover 
Spain had on September 1, 1905 signed a treaty with the latter 
in which mutual support at the Conference was stipulated. 
Finally, Italy welcomed the free hand in Tripoli which had 
been guaranteed her, and was drawing away from the incon- 
gruous allies to whom she was bound by the Triplice. The 
United States was also represented at the Conference and, 
partly because she had no interests of her own in Morocco, 
played a very important part as pacificator. 

In a high degree the Conference of Algeciras was thus a 
diplomatic duel between the Triple Alliance, with a rather less 
than lukewarm Italy, and the Triple Entente, supported by 
Spain, with the United States as " honest broker." The com- 
binations of 1915 were very nearly foreshadowed. The urgent 
questions in Morocco were those of the Police and of the new 
State Bank which it was proposed to set up. Germany made 
overtures to Spain, offering her the control of the Police behind 
the back of France. Spain refused to be seduced. Then 
Austria formulated proposals which included the distribution 
of eight Moroccan ports among the Powers. Just at this 
moment (March 7, 1906) the Rouvier Government fell, and 
France was in the dangerous predicament of having to deal 
with critical problems at a European Conference, while the 
political situation at home was in a state of flux. Fortunately 
there was a patriotic rally, and Leon Bourgeois, who went to 
the Quai d'Orsay in the Sarrien Government which replaced 
that of Rouvier, maintained a firm hand ; so that no hitch in 
policy occurred. 

The United States now intervened. President Roosevelt, 
through the American delegate at the Conference, riddled the 
Austrian proposals with criticism ; and, as Germany was at 
that moment particularly anxious to stand well in the eyes of 
the United States, they were withdrawn, and on April 7, 1906 
the Final Act of the Conference of Algeciras was signed. It 
was an ambiguous document of more than questionable utility. 
While ostensibly guaranteeing the integrity and independence 
of Morocco, it placed the finances, tariffs, public works and to 
a great extent the police, of that country under international 
tutelage. But, owing to the proximity of France and Spain 


to Morocco, it was inevitable that the police duties should fall 
on them. The Algeciras Act was in fact little more than an 
injury on paper to French interests ; in practice things remained 
much as they were. The Act was no doubt irritating, and in 
a sense humiliating to France ; but the real humiliation had 
been in the forced acceptance of the Conference and the fall 
of Delcasse at German dictation. This was all the more humilia- 
ting in that Germany had no real interests in Northern Africa. 
The consoling feature was that the Entente had stood firm 
under a severe test and that Germany had completely failed 
to accomplish her design of embroiling the Powers and tearing 
up the earlier Moroccan agreements. These survived the Con- 

The change of ministry which had for a moment seemed 
likely to endanger French interests at Algeciras had been 
brought about by religious troubles. Since the breach with 
Rome in 1904 it had become increasingly obvious that the rela- 
tions between Church and State in France stood in need of 
modification. To the logical French mind it was an absurdity 
that the State should continue to recognise and pay a body 
which owed allegiance to a Power with which France had 
broken off relations. The law of December 9, 1905, for the 
separation of the Church from the State, removed this absurdity. 

Its principal provisions were as follows : While recognising 
in its opening words complete liberty of conscience, it with- 
drew all recognition, and after a period of grace during which 
gradually decreasing salaries were to be paid all subventions 
by the State from all religions. The salaries of chaplains in 
public secondary schools, prisons and hospitals were however 
to be paid by the State, and pensions not exceeding 1,500 francs 
(60) a year were provided for the aged clergy. An inventory 
of all ecclesiastical property was to be taken, so that its legal 
ownership might be ascertained. Such of this property as 
legally belonged to the churches was to be transferred to the 
Associations culturelles provided for in the Act. These Asso- 
ciations were to be set up in every Commune. The property 
belonging to the State or to other civil corporations was to 
revert to its rightful owners, subject to certain obligations on 
their part. All religious edifices were left to the Associations ; 
but presbyteries, seminaries and episcopal palaces were to 
revert to their rightful owners after the expiry of five years. 

The Associations were permitted to raise funds but not to 
accumulate them beyond a certain figure, their accounts being 
liable to inspection by the Ministry of Finance. Churches were 


to be used exclusively for religious purposes. Bell-ringing and 
religious ceremonies outside the churches were subject to the 
discretion of the Municipalities. Religious instruction was 
only to be given outside school-hours. Ecclesiastics were dis- 
pensed from military service. Sunday and the four great 
festivals of the Church were retained as public holidays. 

This far-reaching law, marred as it was by a certain anti- 
religious bias which distinguished some of its provisions, may 
be regarded as the inevitable corollary of the breach with Rome. 
It was of course a serious blow to religion, and an illustration 
of the impossibility of dispensing equal justice between religion, 
which is positive, and unbelief, which is negative. But the Church 
was not wholly a loser, and given tolerant administration of 
the Act she even stood to be a gainer. She lost practically all 
her State subventions, it is true, and the pensions provided 
were somewhat niggardly, especially in the case of dignitaries, 
who for this purpose were placed on a level with the 
humblest cur6s. On the other hand, she gained a modicum of 
freedom the power for instance to appoint her own Arch- 
bishops and Bishops, and the right to hold Synods. The Act 
even included provisions which were calculated to safeguard 
the Church of Rome, and to give it a privileged position as 
against schismatic religions. The abrogation of the Concordat 
was perhaps a misfortune ; but mainly so because it left France 
officially a non-religious State, and put it into the power of 
groups of malicious or prejudiced persons to harass their 
religiously-minded neighbours. On the whole, considering the 
factious opposition that the Church had offered to the Republic, 
and the. uniformly unfortunate nature of its interventions in 
politics, it cannot be maintained that it suffered unreasonably 
by the Act of Separation. 

Considerable spasmodic resistance was made to the Inven- 
tories ; but this appears to have been hardly spontaneous. It 
was sufficient however to cause the downfall of the Rouvier 
Cabinet, as already recounted (March 7, 1906). In the previous 
month Loubet's term of Presidential office had expired, and 
Armand Fallieres was chosen to fill his place. Sarrien, who 
had succeeded Rouvier, was replaced on October 25, 1906 by 
his colleague Clemenceau with a reconstructed Cabinet, which 
included the Socialist Briand. Briand it was who presided over 
the application of the Law of Separation. He was not of the 
stuff of which persecutors are made, and very sensibly left the 
recalcitrant clergy, who after all were acting under orders 
from the Vatican, in possession of their churches. He also in 


the face of violent opposition passed two supplementary laws 
which legalised this administrative concession. In this way he 
deprived the Church of that valuable weapon a concrete 
grievance, and greatly eased the religious situation which, in 
less tolerant hands, might well have become a danger to the 

Clemenceau' s Ministry was a reconstruction, but it included 
one Minister whose appointment was a notable event. General 
Picquart became Minister for War. Picquart had been the 
ablest and most strenuous advocate of Dreyfus, and had done 
more than any other person to expose the intrigues and mal- 
practices of the War Office. As a consequence he had suffered 
imprisonment, and was subsequently retired from the Army. 
His appointment to the War Office was thus a sign that at last 
the Affaire was wound up. The Cour de Cassation had quashed 
the verdict of the Dreyfus Court-Martial on July 12, 1906, and 
both Dreyfus and Picquart were reinstated ; an amnesty for 
all concerned was then decreed, the ashes of Zola, who had 
shared with Picquart the honourable obloquy of having sought 
justice for a Jew, were transferred to the Pantheon, while 
Picquart, who was a man of signal ability, was gratified with 
this ministerial appointment. 

The Clemenceau Cabinet found itself confronted with grave 
difficulties. Not only was there keen opposition from the 
Socialists, who cried out for the full Marxist remedy of Com- 
munism and scoffed at any democratic legislation which fell 
short of that ideal, but government was becoming very difficult 
owing to the constant interference of constituencies with their 
representatives, and to the impossibility of placing reliance on 
the solidarity of parliamentary groups. The Ministry could 
not depend from day to day on its majority, and felt that at 
any moment it might be swept from office. Clemenceau put 
forward a very uncompromising programme of reform. He set 
up a Ministry of Labour with Viviani at its head, advocated the 
nationalisation of the railways and actually took over the 
Quest, while Caillaux, the Minister of Finance, introduced 
proposals for a graduated tax on incomes. But all this did not 
satisfy the Socialists ; and their spokesman, Jaures, continued 
to denounce all proposals that did not answer to the touchstone 
of Marxism. Strikes and disturbances, at times attended with 
bloodshed, occurred with increasing frequency, and seriously 
injured France. She was at that time playing a critical diplo- 
matic game, and played it with her hand grievously weakened 
by these domestic troubles. 


In the Near East, where the Central Powers were threatening 
an advance in two vital directions towards Baghdad and 
towards Salonika France played a secondary part. All she 
was called upon to do was to give diplomatic support to her 
ally Russia. In Morocco, on the other hand, in spite of the 
Act of Algeciras, her part was, by mere force of circumstances, 
that of a principal. There was much delay in the ratification 
of the Act, which did not come into force until the end of 1906. 
It did nothing to ameliorate conditions in Morocco, where 
anarchy continued to prevail, with the result that France and 
Spain, the countries contiguous to the disturbed area, were 
continually under the necessity of making naval and military 
demonstrations. Theoretically since the Act of Algeciras the 
task was an international one, in practice it fell exclusively to 
the contiguous Powers. The promised internationalisation of 
Morocco was soon seen to be no more than a paper provision, 
to a great extent incapable of execution. 

While affairs in Morocco were developing in this way, France 
continued her sagacious policy of seeking solutions of the 
various problems which still stood between her and the Powers 
whose friendship she desired to retain. On October 20, 1906 
a treaty with England had set the New Hebrides trouble at 
rest ; on March 27, 1907 the outstanding questions with Siam 
were settled. More important than these treaties however, 
because it removed a serious anomaly which might have 
prejudiced the entente with England, was the Franco-Japanese 
Treaty of June 10, 1907. The two Powers mutually guaranteed 
each other's Asiatic possessions and the integrity of China. 

Of almost equal importance was the agreement signed by 
France, England and Italy recognising the status quo in 
Abyssinia. It was a sign that Italy was not bound hand and 
foot to Germany and Austria, but was inclined to independent 
action. If not an actual breach in the Triple Alliance, it showed 
that such a breach was practicable. Finally, on December 13, 
1906 and May 16, 1907 treaties were signed with Spain by 
France and England respectively, the object of both of which 
was the maintenance of the status quo in the Mediterranean and 
Morocco. This important group of treaties has been well 
described by a recent French historian as a general " making 
friends with other people's friends." And the most important 
of all was the understanding between England and Russia on 
August 31, 1907. This was the real birthday of the Triple 
Entente, the reward of many years of patient diplomacy. The 
natural corollary of this great event was the visit of President 


Fallieres to London, which was followed by a visit to the Tsar 
at Reval. 

Germany, under these circumstances, seemed momentarily 
inclined to make overtures to France, with the result that in 
April 1908 an agreement was made between the two Powers, 
adjusting the frontier between the Cameroons and the French 
Congo ; and when fresh and more vigorous intervention in 
Morocco on the part of France became necessary owing to the 
conflict between the Sultan Abd-el-Aziz and his brother 
Mulai Hafid, Germany made no protest. Considerable protest 
was made, however, by the politicians at home. Jaures ful- 
minated against a costly and dangerous entanglement ; and 
even men like Ribot denounced the forward policy in Morocco. 
In point of fact France observed scrupulous neutrality as 
between the rival claimants to the Sultanate, and confined her 
activities to keeping order and protecting life and property 
so far as that was possible. It was Germany that plunged in 
and demanded the recognition of Mulai Hafid. A slight incident 
that occurred at Casablanca, in which some deserters from the 
Foreign Legion were arrested by the French authorities, raised 
excited protests from Germany ; and, as both France and 
Russia were at the moment involved in serious domestic troubles, 
it required some courage on the part of Clemenceau to refuse 
the demand for an apology and to insist on the reference of the 
matter to the arbitration of The Hague Tribunal. 

The real danger to France at this juncture was not external 
but internal, from her internecine dissensions and her factious 
politicians, and in particular from her economic and financial 
troubles. French finance since 1871 had, generally speaking, 
been reckless ; the national debt had gone on mounting up, and 
no attempt had been made to create a sinking fund for its 
redemption. The Third Republic did not produce a single 
great finance minister, but it had never produced so bad a one 
as Caillaux, who held the office in Clemenceau' s Ministry. A 
decline of trade was setting in, and Caillaux did what, under 
similar circumstances, all unscrupulous politicians are prone to 
do : he cut down the votes for the fighting services. It was a 
just nemesis that overtook Clemenceau when in July 1909 
the denunciations which Delcasse brought against him for 
sacrificing the navy drove him from office. 

Briand, who succeeded Clemenceau as President of the 
Council, was the first Socialist to be head of a French Govern- 
ment. He was a man of large views and a strong sense of 
responsibility. He recognised the danger to France of a 


continuance of faction in politics, and he made a determined 
attempt to eliminate party. He sought also to widen the 
outlook of French parliamentarians and draw them away from 
parochialism and corruption by employing Gambetta's remedy 
and reimposing scrutin de liste. Further, in the face of serious 
strikes of seamen and railwaymen in 1910 and of troubles 
amongst the vine-dressers in 1911, he vindicated the right of 
the Government to govern. His firmness quickly alienated 
the extreme wing of the Socialists ; the Radicals had been 
already alienated by the adoption of scrutin de liste. The 
policy of government without party broke in Briand's hands, 
and on February 27, 1911 he resigned. Monis took office, with 
Caillaux once more at the Ministry of Finance and Delcass6 at 
the Marine. 

In foreign policy Briand had followed Clemenceau. The 
Balkan crisis of 1908, the Young Turks' Revolution, the declara- 
tion of Bulgarian independence, the transfer of Crete to Greece 
and the Austrian annexation of Bosnia and Hercegovina had 
profoundly upset the Balkan equilibrium and had overset the 
Treaty of Berlin. France was concerned chiefly as the ally of 
Russia and played a subordinate role. On the whole the 
Balkan crisis was a rebuff to the Entente and a success for the 
Central Powers. 

In January and February 1909 an attempt was made to 
reach an understanding with Germany about Morocco ; a 
declaration of February 6, 1909 renewed the guarantee of 
independence and integrity for Morocco and economic equality 
for all nations in that quarter, Germany declaring that her 
Moroccan interests were purely economic and commercial. 
Shortly afterwards the Near Eastern crisis was ended by the 
Russian acceptance of Austria's annexation of Bosnia and 
Hercegovina. Once again the diplomatic victory had gone to 
the Central Powers. For the moment it seemed that, at the 
cost of some sacrifice, France was about to adjust the various 
differences between herself and Germany. In May 1909 an 
attempt was made to extend this policy to Equatorial Africa 
by the establishment of a Franco- German commercial consortium 
in the Congo. It was at this moment that Briand succeeded 
Clemenceau. He retained Pichon at the Foreign Office, so 
that there was no break in foreign policy. But the plans for 
joint economic and commercial operations by France and 
Germany in the Congo and Morocco made no headway. 

The accession to power of Monis was soon followed by a 
renewal of disorders in Morocco ; and on May 21, 1911 French 


troops were despatched to Fez, whereupon Spain took alarm 
and landed troops at Larache. This double movement aroused 
Germany ; and the gradual drift which had been in progress 
towards a general Franco-German colonial consortium quickly 
ebbed away. An attempt on the part of Caillaux to negotiate 
a common Franco -German railway enterprise in the Congo and 
Cameroons behind the back of his Foreign Minister was stopped 
by the latter, and this further irritated Germany, who at once 
began to show her teeth. A German man-of-war was sent to 
the Moroccan port of Agadir (July 1). 

This was undisguised and flagrant intimidation ; and it 
created a very critical international situation, all the more so 
because Caillaux had just succeeded Monis (June) in the Presi- 
dency of the Council. Negotiations were opened at Berlin, 
France being strengthened by assurances of support from 
England. Germany demanded compensations in return for a 
withdrawal in Morocco, and indicated the Congo as an appro- 
priate ground. The manoeuvres at this juncture of certain 
French business men at Berlin, and those of Caillaux himself, 
who negotiated over the head of Selves, the Minister for Foreign 
Affairs, were injurious to French interests. Notwithstanding 
this, relations became very much strained, and there was a 
general feeling that Europe was on the brink of war. But 
to the Central Powers the moment seemed inopportune ; for 
France was clearly not without allies, and Italy was involved in 
hostilities with Turkey over Tripoli, and inclined to favour 
the French pretensions in Morocco. The Wilhelmstrasse there- 
fore determined to confine its activities to securing the best 
diplomatic bargain possible. The result was the Treaty of 
November 4, 1911, by which France obtained freedom to 
establish a Protectorate in Morocco, while Germany obtained 
very large territorial concessions in the Cameroons, which gave 
her access to the Rivers Congo and Ubangi. 

The treaty of November 4, 1911 was greeted with a howl 
of execration in France, where public opinion bitterly resented 
the repeated surrenders to German arrogance. There was some 
talk of bringing Caillaux before the High Court on a charge of 
treason, and on January 11, 1912 the Ministry was driven from 
power. The position had greatly altered since a similar out- 
burst had greeted Jules Ferry's forward colonial policy. Public 
opinion was beginning to see that the policy of continual sur- 
render could only end in the complete subordination of France 
to Germany, and to recognise that war might be the lesser of 
two evils. A great awakening of patriotism and national self- 


respect became evident, and the Poincare* Ministry of January 13, 
1912 was a rally of the strong men of France in face of a situa- 
tion which demanded the union of all patriotic forces. The 
combination of Poincare with Briand (Keeper of the Seals), 
Delcasse (Minister of Marine) and Millerand (Minister of War) 
was a challenge in itself ; it reflected the rally of opinion towards 
a firmer foreign policy and marked a great change in the spirit 
of France. 

Poincare had no choice but to ratify the unpopular treaty ; 
and on March 12, 1912 the Sultan of Morocco accepted the 
French Protectorate. Supplementary conventions settled the 
frontiers of Dahomey and the Congo. Prolonged negotiations 
with Spain ensued, in which the area of her zones of influence, 
and the question of the control of a future Tangier-Fez railway, 
caused great difficulty. It was not till September 27 that a 
basis of accommodation was reached. The Ministry meanwhile 
had set itself to draw closer the strands of the Triple Entente, 
and Poincare paid a personal visit to St. Petersburg in August, 
where it has been conjectured- he learnt the nature of the 
Balkan treaties which had just been signed, and concluded that 
a European war could not long be averted. He returned to 
France the more intent on strengthening the country for a 
struggle which he recognised to be inevitable. 

The Balkan War broke out in September, and the rapid 
collapse of Turkey was a surprise and embarrassment to the 
Central Powers. So alarming was the European situation that, 
when a Conference of the belligerents was summoned to London 
to discuss terms of peace, a Conference of Ambassadors was also 
summoned to seek a peaceful solution of Balkan questions 
(December 1912). These Conferences, the failure of the 
belligerents to agree on terms, the renewal of hostilities, the 
Second Balkan War and the Treaty of Bucharest, only served 
to emphasise the dangers which threatened the peace of Europe. 

The election of Poincare to the Presidency of the Republic, 
with a unanimity and enthusiasm which had not attended the 
election of any former President, signified that France realised 
the situation and approved the policy for which Poincare stood. 
The Briand and Barthou Cabinets carried on this policy with 
great vigour. Naval and military affairs occupied them con- 
tinually ; and on March 4, 1913 Barthou passed into law a 
measure proposed by Briand which reimposed three years' 
service. This was a reply to the military and financial measures 
recently adopted in Germany. Both countries in fact were 
openly arming. This legislation, though it undoubtedly 


reflected the feeling of the country, was not carried without 
opposition. The Radical-Socialists, led by Caillaux and Malvy, 
were loud in their outcries, and when, on November 14, 1913, 
Barthou proposed a loan to meet the increased expenditure on 
armaments, they succeeded in overthrowing the Ministry. 

Doumergue, who took office in December 1913, included in 
his Cabinet Caillaux, Malvy and Monis a somewhat sinister 
combination. This Ministry leaned for support on the Radicals, 
who had ranged themselves against the patriotic revival. The 
Socialists, protesting against capitalistic chauvinism, and against 
the " Three Years' Law," associated themselves with the 
Radicals. Against this pacifist " bloc " Barthou, with the aid 
of Briandand Millerand, organised a " Federation of the Lefts," 
with a programme of electoral reform, and of national defence 
based on the Three Years' Law. The moment was a dangerous 
one for France ; Poincare's patriotic policy seemed to be com- 
promised, the proposed loan was abandoned, the strife of parties 
became more envenomed than ever, and the Ministry cried 
4 peace " when there was no peace, asserting, and possibly 
believing, that the diplomatic clouds were dispersing. It was 
fortunate for France that revelations, disclosing an old financial 
scandal in which Caillaux was involved, drove that dangerous 
and sinister figure into resignation (March 16, 1914). 

In May there was a general election ; but the Ministry formed 
by Ribot on June 9 to meet the new Chambers was defeated, 
and it resigned on the same day. Viviani stepped into the 
breach, and revived the Poincare-Barthou policy, retaining the 
" Three Years' Law" and reintroducing the proposals for a loan 
for national defence. To have got rid of the Doumergue Ministry 
was an escape for France ; but, though the policy of Viviani 
was sound and patriotic, his Ministry was greatly hampered by 
the incoherence of the new Chamber. A series of scandals in 
army administration was exposed in the spring of 1914, which 
rudely shook the confidence of the country ; so that when on 
June 28 the assassination of the Archduke gave the signal for 
the general conflagration, it seemed that France was destined 
to face the crisis of her fate with a weak Government and her 
military strength grievously impaired by maladministration. 
How she rose to the occasion, how the Entente, after a moment 
of great strain, held together, and how her military instinct 
triumphed over the difficulties which political ineptitude had 
strewn in her path, belongs to the history of the War. 




(June to August 1914) 

ON June 28, 1914 Europe was startled and horrified by the 
news of the assassination of the Archduke Ferdinand, heir to the 
Austrian and Hungarian crowns, who, with his wife the Duchess 
of Hohenberg, was killed in the streets of the Bosnian town of 
Sarajevo. The crime was a political one, and its perpetrator 
was an Austrian subject. There seemed however good reason 
to believe that it had its origins in Serbia, and it was generally 
recognised that Austria-Hungary had a right to demand satis- 
faction from that country. For a month there ensued a com- 
plete silence, which, but for the fact that Austria encouraged the 
belief that her demands, when presented, would be such as 
Serbia could accept, might have been regarded as ominous. 
As it was, anxiety was allayed, and many European sovereigns, 
statesmen and diplomats started on their customary summer 
holidays. The Emperor Francis Joseph went to Ischl, the 
Kaiser started on a yachting cruise in Norwegian waters. 
Amongst others, M. Poincare set off on July 15 on a tour of the 
Northern Courts. He was accompanied by M. Viviani, who 
was not only President of the Council but also Minister for 
Foreign Affairs. In Paris the interest of the public was concen- 
trated on the sensational trial of Mme Caillaux, wife of the late 
French Finance Minister, on a charge of murdering M. Calmette, 
editor of the Figaro, who had been directing a newspaper cam- 
paign against her husband. 

Such was the state of affairs when on July 23 the long- 
expected Austrian Note was presented at Belgrade. When 
its terms became known it was quickly seen that it was a docu- 
ment of the most critical nature. More grave even than the 
terms themselves was the time-limit imposed in the Note. Serbia 
was to reply within forty-eight hours, an interval clearly too 
short to admit of the action of diplomacy. 

Neither France nor England had any direct interest in Balkan 
questions. But Russia was deeply interested in Serbia, and 
could not be expected to sit still and watch that State become 
the vassal of Austria ; and France was bound to Russia by 
treaty committed by honour and self-interest to support her 


if she became involved in hostilities. Germany and Italy were 
similarly committed to Austria, though the Triple Alliance 
contemplated only a defensive war. Germany was generally 
credited though her diplomats vigorously repudiated the 
suggestion with having been privy beforehand to the Austrian 
Note, and might be counted on to give her full support to 
Austria. England, though associated with France by the 
Entente Cordiale, was not bound by treaty to support her. The 
Triple Entente was not an alliance but a " diplomatic group." 
England's hands were therefore free, though there existed 
moral obligations which it was impossible for her to disregard. 
Clearly therefore, if the quarrel between Austria and Serbia 
could not be localised, it was certain to involve all the Great 
Powers of Europe with the possible exception of Italy. And 
the localisation of the quarrel was improbable. The situation 
was thus one of extreme gravity, and might rapidly lead to 
incalculable consequences. 

On July 24 the terms of the Austrian Note were communi- 
cated by the Austrian Ambassador to the French Foreign Office, 
and at once repeated to M. Viviani, who with President Poincar6 
had just left Russia for Sweden. M. Bienvenu Martin was 
acting for M. Viviani as Minister for Foreign Affairs, and handled 
a most delicate situation with much firmness and good-sense. 
He pleaded in the first place that, in the event of Serbia accepting 
the main provisions of the Austrian Note, the door should not 
be closed on negotiations ; he advised Serbia through the 
Serbian Minister to offer satisfaction on all points which were 
not irreconcilable with her dignity and honour, and to seek 
to escape from the clutches of Austria by offering to submit to 
arbitration. He also supported the request for an extension 
of the time-limit, and associated himself with Sir Edward Grey's 
proposal for mediation by the four " disinterested " Powers 
France, England, Germany and Italy. 

On July 25 the Serbian reply to the Austrian Note was pre- 
sented, and was generally acknowledged to be temperate and 
conciliatory. It accepted nearly all the Austrian conditions, 
and offered to submit outstanding points to the judgement of 
The Hague Tribunal. Still it did not accept and indeed could 
not have accepted the Austrian proposals in their entirety ; 
and Austria refused to listen to anything but unconditional 
acceptance. Neither she nor Germany believed that Russia 
would risk intervention. Serbia exposed as she was to 
Austrian attack began to mobilise ; and it rapidly became 
clear that Russia intended to take vigorous action should 


Austria attack Serbia. The outlook was alarming in the 
extreme ; but France remained calm. The only demonstration 
was a revolutionary riot in Paris, which was dealt with by the 
police ; but the funds fell, and gold began to disappear from 

It was at this juncture (July 26) that the German Ambassador, 
Baron von Schoen, approached the French Foreign Office with a 
proposal for joint Franco-German intervention at St. Petersburg, 
and suggested a communication to the French Press, in which 
reference should be made to the " pacific solidarity " existing 
between France and Germany. M. Bienvenu Martin scented 
in this proposal a covert attack on the Franco-Russian Alliance, 
very pertinently suggested that Germany might be more 
profitably employed in preaching moderation at Vienna, and 
declined to make any but a quite colourless communication to 
the Press. 

Two days later (July 28) Austria declared war on Serbia, and 
on the 29th Belgrade was bombarded. On the same day MM. 
Poincare and Viviani, who had cut short their tour, returned to 
Paris, and the latter at once resumed charge of the Foreign 
Office. The 29th was a critical day. It was at last realised in 
Vienna and Berlin that Russia meant business. It became a 
matter of first-rate importance for Germany to ascertain the 
intentions of England, and on the same day the Chancellor 
approached Sir E. Goschen, the British Ambassador, with a 
clumsy proposal intended to secure a promise of neutrality from 
England. " Provided," he said, " that the neutrality of Britain 
were certain, every assurance would be given . . . that the 
Imperial Government aimed at no territorial acquisitions at the 
expense of France." Asked if this guarantee would include the 
French Colonies, he said that " he was unable to give a similar 
undertaking." Sir Edward Grey returned a justly scathing 
and indignant answer to this humiliating proposal. 

It was not only Germany that was interested in the attitude 
of England. It was a matter of the deepest concern to Russia 
and France. Russia had already urged England to declare her 
solidarity with the Entente, as the surest means of avoiding a 
general war ; but Sir Edward Grey had put the suggestion 
aside. On July 30 France made a similar representation. 
President Poincare put it to the British Ambassador that if 
England would declare now her intention of supporting France 
it would almost certainly prevent Germany going to war. M. 
Cambon, the French Ambassador to Great Britain, at the same 
time invited Sir Edward Grey to say what England would do 


' if certain circumstances arose." Sir Edward Grey was in a 
most difficult situation. The Triple Entente was a mere diplo- 
matic group, but France had made certain dispositions, in 
particular the concentration of her fleet in the Mediterranean, 
in full reliance on the friendship between the two countries. 
The British Cabinet, however, was divided, and it was pretty 
clear that public opinion would not approve of armed interven- 
tion in a question where British interests and honour were not 
palpably at stake. After a meeting of the Cabinet Sir Edward 
Grey replied (July 31) to M. Paul Cambon who had been plead- 
ing the cause of France with the utmost energy, and urging that 
if England failed to support her, British world-wide reputation 
for honour would be at an end that the Government " could 
not give any pledge at the present time," but that the preserva- 
tion of the neutrality of Belgium might be " an important factor 
in determining our attitude." On the same day President 
Poincare addressed a dignified personal appeal to King George, 
to which the latter made a sympathetic but guarded reply. 
Meanwhile however (July 30) Sir Edward Grey had warned the 
German Ambassador that Germany " must not count upon our 
standing aside in all circumstances." 

The partial mobilisation in Russia on July 29 had accentuated 
the crisis. Russia had exercised the greatest moderation and 
had repeatedly declared herself willing to accept any form of 
mediation. The one thing she could not permit was that 
Austria should do what she liked with Serbia ; and the only 
way in which she could prove her sincerity and determination 
was to mobilise. Her mobilisation for the present was only on 
the Austrian frontier, but Berlin at once began to threaten, 
while France on July 30 declared that she would fulfil her 
treaty obligations. There was no alternative open to her. 
At the same time, in conjunction with England, she brought 
pressure on Russia to make concessions, with the result that 
on July 31 Russia undertook to " adopt a waiting attitude " 
if Austria would stay her invasion and accept European 
mediation. This move was unsuccessful ; for on the same 
day Germany declared a state of " danger of war " the im- 
mediate preliminary to mobilisation. General mobilisation 
was at the same time ordered in Austria, and Russia followed 

The German Ambassador in Paris now demanded from France 

(11 a.m. August 1) a statement of what her attitude would 

be in the event of war between Germany and Russia. The 

demand was almost insulting, and M. Viviani gave the curt 

F 12 


reply that " France would consult her own interests." l On 
the same day general mobilisation was ordered in Germany and 
France, though France in the Presidential Message which 
accompanied the mobilisation order was careful to point out 
that mobilisation did not mean war, and to state that there 
was still hope of a successful issue to the efforts of the diplomats. 
The order was received in France with the utmost calm. The 
assassination of M. Jaures, the Socialist leader, on the previous 
day had no political significance, and served only to demonstrate 
the suppression of party feeling in face of the crisis, all parties 
uniting to denounce the crime and pay respect to the victim. 

England now addressed to Germany and France an identical 
Note, requesting assurances from each Power that the guaran- 
teed neutrality of Belgium would be respected. France at once 
renewed an assurance which, as she pointed out, had already 
been given several times ; the German Secretary of State 
expressed doubt whether any reply could be given, on the 
ground that " it must disclose a certain amount of their plan 
of campaign in the event of war ensuing." 

On the very day of the order for general mobilisation the 
frontiers of Luxembourg were violated by Germany. France 
had just given an assurance to the Government of the Grand 
Duchy that her neutrality would be respected. To justify her 
assault Germany put forward allegations of violation of German 
and Belgian territory by French aircraft. These were vigorously 
denied by France, who had been punctiliously anxious to give 
no ground for accusations of premature aggression, and with this 
object had withdrawn her advanced posts ten kilometres from 
the frontier. These German allegations were never supported 
by evidence, any more than the allegation that there was proof 
" on unimpeachable authority " of the intention of France to 
advance through Belgium. This was put forward as a justifi- 
cation of the German violation of Belgium, which took place 
on August 3. 

On that day Germany declared war on France. M. Jules 
Cambon, who had worked for peace with admirable persistence at 
Berlin, was handed his passports. The circumstances attending 
his departure left an indelible stain on the German claim to 
courtesy and decency. The Embassy was mobbed, and during 
his journey to the Danish frontier the Ambassador was subjected 

1 It came out nearly four years afterwards (March 1918) that the Ambassador 
had even more insulting proposals to make in case France were to declare her 
neutrality : namely, that as guarantee of her neutrality France was to allow her 
strong frontier-fortresses of Toul and Verdun to be occupied by German troops. 


to calculated indignities of the meanest kind. The departure 
from Paris of Baron von Schoen was carried out with a punc- 
tilious observance of the courtesies and formalities of diplomatic 
life which afforded a sharp contrast to the treatment of 
M. Cambon. 

The invasion of Belgium by Germany simplified the task of 
Sir Edward Grey and ensured the solidarity of the Triple Entente. 
England had already given an assurance (August 2) to France 
that if the German fleet came into the Channel or through the 
North Sea to undertake hostile operations against French coasts 
or shipping, the British fleet would give all the protection in 
its power. As, by mutual understanding between France and 
England, the French fleet was concentrated in the Mediterranean, 
England was bound in honour to give some such guarantee. 
The violation of Belgian neutrality however brought her 
fully on to the side of France, for England was bound by treaty 
to vindicate the neutrality of Belgium. An ultimatum was at 
once despatched to Berlin. On August 4 Sir Edward Goschen 
asked for his passports, and England was definitely ranged 
beside France and Russia. 



(v. Maps at end) 

(a) 1914 

THE crisis of the end of July 1914 found France with a Govern- 
ment resolved to give Germany no pretext for forcing on a 
conflict, and with an army trained to look upon an immediate 
and resolute offensive as the only source of victory. This 
conflict between political defence and military attack proved 
at once to be embarrassing to those responsible for the conduct 
of the war. On the one hand the French Government issued 
orders that pending the formal declaration of war all the troops 
covering the mobilisation of the armies of France should be 
withdrawn to a distance of ten kilometres from the frontier, 
that no aircraft should fly over Belgian or German territory, 
and that no French soldiers should enter Belgium. On the 
other hand the French military plans prepared in anticipation 
and regularly revised by the Superior Council of War envisaged 
a prompt offensive into Alsace and Lorraine which it was 
hoped would anticipate the completion of the German concen- 

The precautions taken by the French Government to preserve 
peace even at the last hour materially assisted the Germans in 
screening their plans and in creating a fog of war which the 
French soldiers found difficulty in penetrating. Added to this 
the French Intelligence Department seriously miscalculated 
the number of troops which Germany could place in the field 
on the Western Front at the outbreak of war. The number of 
regular army corps which Germany possessed was known in 
every Intelligence Department in Europe, but it was uncertain 
how many reserve formations could at once reinforce the 
regular troops and what the state of their efficiency would be. 
In the French War Office it was anticipated that one division 
of reserve troops would be added to each regular army corps 
of two divisions, and it was not thought that these reserve 



divisions could be comparable in efficiency with the regulars in 
the early days of the war. The German General Staff however 
for many years before the war had been secretly increasing the 
number and efficiency of their reserve troops. This work had 
been initiated in 1904 by v. Ludendorff when he was a colonel 
in the Great General Staff in Berlin, and when war came the 
Germans were able to add not one division but one army corps 
of reserve troops to each regular army corps. True, these 
reserve corps were not fully equipped with artillery, but 
they were none the less able to take their places in the 

The French had not developed either the training or equip- 
ment of their reserve troops in a corresponding degree, and 
these were at first markedly inferior in fighting capacity to the 
German reserve formations. Nor was this the only miscalcu- 
lation made in the French War Office. The whole tendency of 
French military thought before the war had been to increase 
by training and precept the natural dash of the French infantry- 
man. Not only was attack preached in and out of season, but 
in order not to hamper the rapid advance of the infantry the 
introduction of heavy artillery into the field army had been 
deliberately rejected, and reliance was placed upon the 75 field 
gun, a splendid weapon admirably served, but not powerful 
enough to prepare the way for attack even upon hastily- 
entrenched positions. The French staffs had not studied as 
closely as the Germans the lessons of the Russo-Japanese War, 
and they did not fully appreciate the powers of resistance 
against direct attack which modern weapons confer upon a 
defensive position even when thinly manned. They believed 
that dashing infantry resolutely led and adequately supported 
by field artillery could, given a reasonable superiority in 
numbers, break through any defence. 

It was upon this information and upon these principles that 
the French plan of campaign was based. This plan, prepared 
by the French Conseil Superieur de la Guerre and known as 
Plan 17, envisaged the employment of 10 cavalry, 45 active 
and 21 reserve divisions organised in five armies, of which the 
1st, 2nd, 3rd and 5th in that order from right to left were drawn 
up along the frontiers of Alsace-Lorraine and of Belgian Luxem- 
bourg from the Swiss frontier to the neighbourhood of Mezieres. 
The 4th Army was to have been in reserve behind the left 
centre of this line, between Verdun and Chalons. The plan 
provided for an immediate offensive into Alsace and Lorraine 
by the 1st and 2nd Armies, to be followed by a general offensive 


on either side of the German fortified zone comprised in the 
fortresses of Metz and Thionville. 

Upon August 1 Germany ordered general mobilisation and 
declared war on Russia. France thereupon ordered general 
mobilisation and her troops proceeded to move to the places 
allotted to them by Plan 17. Before they had all reached 
their positions a modification of the plan became necessary ; 
a modification which had been foreseen as probable and for 
which provision had been made. On August 4 the Germans 
attacked Liege, and German cavalry appeared in Belgium west 
of the Meuse. The 5th Army was thereupon ordered to take 
ground to its left towards the Sambre and the 4th Army to 
take its place around Mezieres. On August 7 the advanced 
parties of the British Expeditionary Force landed in France ; 
Sir John French had been asked by Joffre to assemble his 
little army just south of the fortress of Maubeuge, where it 
would be on the left of the 5th French Army in its new position. 
The principles of Plan 17 remained unchanged ; there was 
still to be an advance by the 1st and 2nd Armies into Alsace 
and Lorraine, to be followed by an advance of the 3rd and 4th 
Armies into Luxembourg, which had been occupied by the 
Germans, and into the Ardennes. The 5th Army and the 
British Army held a watching brief on the left flank and were 
to be ready to advance into Belgium, either eastwards across 
the Meuse or northwards towards Brussels. The French Staff 
had not overlooked so obvious a probability as the invasion 
of Belgium in force by Germany. The doubtful points in the 
problem were however how far north the German movement 
would extend and in what strength it would be made. The 
answers to these questions depended upon the strength of the 
armies which Germany deployed on the frontier of France and 
Belgium. This strength actually amounted to 10 cavalry, 
44 active and 28 reserve infantry divisions ; and of these no 
less than 5 cavalry, 20 active and 14 reserve divisions were 
destined to fall upon the French left flank. At French 
G.H.Q. however it was not anticipated that this latter 
force would exceed 3 or 4 cavalry and 22 infantry divisions. 
Therefore the indications of a German movement into Belgium 
west of the Meuse were received with equanimity, for it was 
considered that if the enemy were strong in that direction 
he would be weak in the centre, which the 3rd and 4th 
Armies would then break through, thus menacing the retreat of 
the Germans marching on Brussels ; or, alternatively, it was 
held that if the Germans were strong in their centre they 


would be weak west of the Meuse and their right flank would 
be destroyed by the 5th Army, with the Belgian and the 
British armies acting in co-operation. 

The invasion of Alsace began then in accordance with Plan 17, 
on August 8, by an Alsace group which had been formed in the 
neighbourhood of Belfort under the command of General Pau. 
This group occupied Miilhausen on August 8, but was forced to 
evacuate that place two days later under German pressure. On 
August 14 the main invasion of Alsace-Lorraine was begun by 
General Pau's group, together with the 1st Army under General 
Dubail and the 2nd Army under General de Castelnau, a force 
altogether of more than 500,000 men. The French armies 
made steady if somewhat slow progress, and occupied Saarburg 
on August 18. The Germans awaited them in a carefully- 
selected and strongly-entrenched position, which was attacked 
on August 20 in the battle of Morhange l -Saarburg. The French 
infantry of the 2nd Army attacked with splendid courage and 
dash, but being unsupported by any heavy artillery were unable 
to make a real impression on the German defences, and after 
the failure of this attack de Castelnau' s right was counter- 
attacked and driven back. On the left of the 2nd Army the 
magnificent 20th Corps commanded by General Foch more 
than held its own at Morhange and secured the retreat of the 
Army which the defeat of the right had made inevitable. On 
Castelnau's right Dubail's 1st Army had been equally heavily 
engaged round Saarburg, which it had been forced to evacuate ; 
but the success of the Germans was sensibly less than that 
which they had gained against the 2nd Army, and Dubail was 
prepared to renew the battle on the 21st when he received the 
news of Castelnau's retreat and was compelled to conform, 
carrying back with him Pau's group. The Germans, following 
up with more zeal than discretion and seeking to break through 
to Nancy, were met along the frontier, where a series of attacks 
delivered by them between August 25 and 27 were all repulsed. 
So ended the first French offensive. 

Meanwhile the attack of the 3rd and 4th French Armies into 
the Ardennes had begun, and on August 21 the 4th Army under 
General Langle de Cary, advancing on the front Sedan-Mont- 
medy, crossed the Semoy and with Ruffey's 3rd Army on its 
right opened the battle of the Ardennes. The French troops 
at once found themselves involved in very difficult, hilly and 
wooded country in which their artillery could give them little 
assistance, a country in fact, as the Germans had foreseen, 

1 Morchingen. 


admirably adapted for defence. Langle de Gary's centre was 
roughly handled owing to the Germans discovering a gap 
between two of his corps, and Ruffey could make no real pro- 
gress. Such was the situation on the 23rd, when events further 
north at length opened the eyes of Joffre to the true situation. 

The Germans had entered Liege on August 7, though, as the 
forts still held out, that fact was not known at French head- 
quarters ; but on the 18th the Belgian Army was attacked on 
the River Gette and driven back towards Antwerp, so that it 
was clear that the Germans had crossed the Meuse in consider- 
able strength. The concentration of the British Army south of 
Maubeuge was now well advanced, and Joffre had ordered his 
5th Army, which he had been strengthening at the expense of 
his right, forward to the Sambre on either side of Charleroi. 
Here it was attacked on the 21st before its concentration was 
complete by v. Billow's 2nd Army, which drove in the French 
advanced troops and secured some of the passages of the 
Sambre. On the same day the Germans began to bombard 
the forts of Namur and the British Army to march towards 
Mons. During heavy fighting on the 22nd the French were 
forced yet further back, but de Lanrezac, having now gathered 
his whole army together and received an assurance that his left 
would be covered by Sir John French, who agreed to stand 
about Mons, was prepared to give battle on the 23rd. Before 
his plans could be developed he received the news that Namur, 
which was the pivot of Joffre's manoeuvre in the north, had 
fallen and, worse still, that the Germans had crossed the Meuse 
near Dinant in force and were menacing his line of retreat. 
He therefore determined to retire, a decision confirmed later by 
Joffre, who was at length aware of the German strength and 
now knew that the British Army of four divisions and a cavalry 
division, instead of being opposed by about an equal number of 
Germans as he had anticipated, were menaced by the ten 
divisions and three cavalry divisions of v. Kluck's 1st Army. 
The Germans had proved strong enough to check the two great 
French attacks on either side of Metz, and to march through 
Belgium, west of the Meuse, in great force. So the whole 
structure of Plan 17 came tumbling down, and the Allied left 
flank was suddenly and unexpectedly exposed to envelopment 
and destruction. 

Joffre at once formed a new plan to meet this danger. He 
decided to swing back his centre and left pivoting on Verdun, 
and to constitute on his left a mass capable not only of check- 
ing the German advance but of outflanking and enveloping 


the enemy's right. On the 25th he announced his intention 
of constituting this mass of his 3rd, 4th and 5th Armies, the 
British Army, and a new 6th Army to be formed in the neigh- 
bourhood of Amiens under General Maunoury of troops drawn 
from the French right flank and from the garrison of Paris. 
On the 26th however the British 2nd Corps was forced by 
Kluck to stand and fight at Le Cateau, where it was attacked 
by very superior numbers, and Sir John French, fearful of 
being caught in a trap, ordered a precipitate retreat across the 
Somme and behind the Oise. This retreat caused a big gap 
in the Allied front between the 5th Army and Maunoury 's 
Army forming east of Amiens, a gap which became wider when 
on the 29th the 5th Army turned about and made a fine attack 
in the direction of St. Quentin, administering in the battle of 
Guise a severe check to Billow's 2nd Army. On the 29th 
also Kluck, swerving away from the British front, attacked 
and drove Maunoury 's troops back from the Avre. 

The 5th Army was now in a very critical position ; its right 
was endangered by the advance of v. Hausen's 3rd Army, its 
front was engaged with Billow's 2nd Army, and its left, no 
longer covered by the British, was threatened by Kluck. An 
appeal to England from Joffre and from the French Govern- 
ment brought Lord Kitchener to Paris to modify the rate of 
the British retreat, and at a conference there on September 1 
an agreement was happily reached, while on the same day the 
British forces succeeded in arresting the progress of Kluck' s 
march against the left of the 5th Army. To protect the right 
of that Army Joffre had formed a new 9th Army, composed in 
the first instance of the left wing of the 4th Army placed under 
the command of General Foch. Despite these remedial mea- 
sures it was clear that a prolonged retreat would be necessary 
to extricate the 5th Army sufficiently to enable it to take part 
in the great counter-offensive against the German right which 
Joffre had planned. On September 2 therefore the French 
Commander-in-Chief ordered a general retreat of his left to- 
wards the Seine and advised the Government to leave Paris, 
where General Gallieni had been installed in command. On 
the evening of the 2nd captured documents disclosed to Joffre 
that Kluck was marching not on Paris but against the left 
of the 5th Army, and the next day Gallieni, making the same 
discovery, proposed an attack by Maunoury' s Army, by this 
time considerably strengthened and under his direction, and 
by the British Army, against Kluck's right. Joffre however 
desired not a local but a mass attack by the 4th, 9th, 5th, 


British and 6th Armies, and for this he had to wait until the 
5th Army had been extricated from danger. Not until the 
evening of September 4 did he decide that the moment had 
come. Then, on hearing both that Kluck had continued to 
plunge southwards, exposing his right flank and rear to 
Maunoury, and that the 5th Army had freed its flanks from 
danger, he turned to his staff and said, " Very well, gentlemen, 
we will fight on the Marne." 

Ere the great retreat was ended Joffre had taken drastic 
action to improve the efficiency of his armies. Ruffey was 
removed from the command of the 3rd Army to be replaced 
by Sarrail, while Franchet d'Esperey succeeded Lanrezac in 
charge of the 5th, and a large number of corps and divisional 
commanders, who had not proved equal to the first severe test 
of war, were replaced by more energetic leaders. But before 
the crisis of the battle of the Marne was reached, away to the 
east in Lorraine there was fought out a battle the issue of 
which had great influence upon the outcome of the more vital 
struggle further west. On September 4 the Germans began 
another great effort to break through to Nancy, an effort met 
and defeated on the Grand Couronne, after three days' fierce 
fighting, by Castelnau's 2nd Army, weakened though it was 
by Joffre's withdrawal of troops from it to reinforce his left. 

The battle of the Marne opened on September 5th with a 
collision between Maunoury' s Army advancing eastwards 
towards the Ourcq and a single reserve corps which Kluck 
had left north of the Marne to guard his flank and rear. This 
German reserve corps was forced to fall back before Maunoury' s 
superior strength, and Kluck, alive to the danger, ordered 
the two corps opposite the British Army back across the Marne 
to meet Maunoury, leaving his cavalry to delay the British. 
On September 6 the British Army and Franchet d'Esperey' s 
5th Army advanced towards the Marne, while on their right 
Foch's 9th Army attacked by the left of Billow's 2nd Army, 
and Hausen's 3rd Army was pressed slowly back. During 
the 7th the battle raged fiercely on the Ourcq, and Kluck, 
finding it impossible to overcome Maunoury with the troops he 
had north of the Marne, ordered back his two remaining corps 
across the river, thus leaving a serious gap between himself 
and Billow. On the 8th, while Maunoury was barely holding 
his own against Billow's increasing strength, and while Foch, 
fighting a desperate defensive battle, was holding the French 
centre together by his indomitable will and refusal to admit 
defeat, the British Army advanced into the gap, and Franchet 


d'Esperey overcame Billow's left at the battle of Montmirail. 
Early on the 9th Biilow received information of the failure 
of the German attack on the Grand Couronne, of the advance 
of the British across the Marne, west of Chateau Thierry, and 
of the serious reverse to his right wing. Thereupon in consul- 
tation with a Staff Officer of v. Moltke's 1 he decided to retreat, 
and sent this Staff Officer to Kluck to direct the 1st Army to 
conform and fall back towards the Aisne. These orders reached 
Kluck at the time when the 1st German Army was preparing to 
crush Maunoury ; but Moltke's representative (Lt.-Col. Hentsch) 
was peremptory, and the German 1st and 2nd Armies retired, 
carrying with them the 3rd Army, just at the moment when 
Foch, reinforced by Franchet d'Esperey, had begun to strike 
back at the enemy whom he had held in check during the three 
previous days. This retreat of the German right and right 
centre eased the situation in front of Langle de Gary, who had 
been fiercely engaged with the 4th German Army, and when 
on the 10th an attack by the German Crown Prince upon 
Sarrail was defeated the whole German line from Verdun west- 
ward became involved in the retreat. Thus the first great 
German plan of conquest in the west ended in failure. 

The retreat of the German right was stayed on the Aisne. 
On September 13 the French reoccupied Soissons and Amiens, 
and on the 14th Reims. The battle of the Aisne then opened, 
the British right and left and Franchet d'Esperey 's 5th Army 
getting across the river but being then held by the Germans, 
who received timely reinforcements by the arrival of the force 
which had been besieging Maubeuge, that fortress having 
fallen on September 7. The battle of the Aisne, which lasted 
until September 28, consisted of alternating attempts by the 
British and French to drive the Germans from the Chemin-des- 
Dames Ridge and by the Germans to force the Allies back over 
the Aisne. It ended in the deadlock of trench warfare and 
with no material change in the positions held when it began. 

While it was raging, there was started that curious crab- 
like movement northwards of the opposing armies which has 
been called the " race to the sea." This race was the result of 
repeated attempts by each side to strike at the other's flanks. 
Maunoury with a mass of French cavalry and some territorial 
divisions on his left reoccupied Noyon and extended as far as 
the Somme, gaining possession of Peronne. On September 18 
Castelnau's Army withdrawn from Lorraine began to rein- 
force the French left, and heavy fighting with indecisive results 

1 Chief of German Great General Staff. 


followed in the neighbourhood of Roye and on the plateau of 
Lassigny. Towards the end of the month Castelnau, further 
reinforced, began an attempt to defeat the German right which 
brought about the battle of Albert (September 27-29). The 
Germans countered this movement by a more than correspond- 
ing strengthening of their right and regained possession of 
Noyon and Peronne, but Castelnau' s men defied all the enemy's 
efforts to turn them out of Albert. The extension of the Ger- 
man right flank still continuing, Joffre at the end of September 
formed a new army in the neighbourhood of Arras under the 
command of General de Maud'huy. Simultaneously the 
French Commander-in-Chief agreed to the proposition of Sir 
John French that the British Army should be relieved on the 
Aisne and moved northwards into Flanders to seek the German 
flank ; but before this movement had well begun, and before 
Maud'huy's concentration was completed, the pressure of the 
Germans in the neighbourhood of Arras appeared to be so 
menacing that Maud'huy proposed to fall back on the Somme. 
If this intention had been carried out the Germans must have 
inevitably secured possession of the Channel ports, with incal- 
culable consequences to the Allies' cause in general and to 
Great Britain in particular. To avert this calamity Joffre sent 
Foch to Flanders to control the French armies in the north 
and to co-ordinate their operations with those of the British 
and Belgian Armies. 

On October 2 the German attacks on Arras were beaten off 
on the very outskirts of that town, but as one crisis was averted 
another developed still further north. On October 3 German 
cavalry entered Ypres and Tournai, and pressing southwards 
through Flanders occupied Hazebrouck and approached St. 
Omer, to be met and driven back by the British Cavalry. On 
September 28 the Germans had begun to bombard the forts of 
Antwerp, where the Belgian Army had taken refuge, and on 
October 10 Antwerp fell, the remnant of the Belgian Army 
escaping southwards through Ghent to the Yser, where it 
joined hands with French marines and with a British force of 
one division (7th) and a cavalry division which had landed at 
Ostend under General Rawlinson. On October 13 Lille fell, 
the British right, which had swung round north of the La 
Bassee Canal and had occupied Neuve Chapelle, being just too 
late to save the French fortress. Then there developed a great 
battle from the La Bassee Canal to the shore of the North Sea 
near Nieuport. 

The Germans, bringing up the besiegers of Antwerp and 


a whole series of new reserve corps which had been formed 
since the outbreak of war, made a last desperate effort to 
break through to the Channel ports. Neuve Chapelle they 
recaptured from the British, but were held just west of the 
village. Armentieres hi British hands resisted then* assaults, 
but they gained Messines and Wytschaete and flung their masses 
in repeated attacks upon the ridges east of Ypres, where Haig 
fought with the British 1st Corps, and against Dixmude stoutly 
held by the French. Yet further north the Belgians, following 
the example of their Dutch neighbours in the past, let in the 
sea and so brought the German attack on the line of the Yser 
to a stand. During all this fighting Foch, steadily reinforced 
by Joffre, and adding to these reinforcements the greater 
reinforcement of his unconquerable will, nourished the wavering 
line. On October 31 Haig's men after some hours of poignant 
crisis drove the Germans back from the ridges east of Ypres, 
while on their right the French repulsed the enemy swarming 
down from the Wytschaete Ridge, and on their left clung 
desperately to Dixmude. The arrival of the Indian Corps and 
of some battalions of British Territorials enabled Sir John 
French to send timely support to Ypres and to Messines, 
and so his hard-pressed troops were able to withstand the 
last German effort. On November 10 a great German attack 
drove out of the town the little band of French heroes who 
had been holding Dixmude for a month, but the exhausted 
Germans could gain no ground beyond, and the next day the 
Prussian Guard assaulted the British front in vain. After 
some further spasmodic attacks by the Germans the great 
battle died down on November 21, the Germans sending off 
to the east to meet the Russian danger every man whom 
they could spare. French troops relieved the weary British 
on the Ypres front, and the second great German effort in the 
west ended, like the first, in failure. The race to the sea was 
ended, and from the sands of Nieuport to the Swiss frontier 
was established the trench barrier which for close on four years 
presented a new and terrible problem to the military world. 

(b) 1915 

France had joined Great Britain in declaring war on Turkey 
on November 5, 1914. The extension of the war to Asia 
naturally affected her less directly than it did her ally ; none 
the less there was more than the glamour of Napoleonic 
tradition to draw the eyes of Frenchmen eastwards, and 


" part ant pour la Syrie " embodied more than mere sentiment, 
for France had great commercial interests in the Levant and 
the shores of the JEgean and had backed those interests with 
substantial investments. The vital importance to France of 
maintaining uninterrupted communication with North Africa, 
whence came many of her best white and native troops, led 
naturally enough to a concentration of the French fleet in the 
Mediterranean which the French admirals, in friendly agree- 
ment with our sailors, in great manner controlled. For these 
reasons the British Government when it decided to attack the 
Dardanelles found ready offers of assistance coming from Paris. 
So not only did a considerable French fleet take part in the 
operations, the Bouvet going down with the Irresistible and 
the Ocean, when the naval attack failed on March 18, but at 
first one division and then two, organised as a complete army 
corps, shared the perils and trials of the land campaign on the 

But for France, with ten of her richest departments overrun 
and in the hands of an enemy established at Noyon within 
seventy-five miles of Paris, the essential problem was how to 
drive out the invader, or at the least reduce the menace to 
her heart. The enemy had succeeded in establishing himself 
in a position so favourable that a moderate success gained at 
one of several points on the long front line would enable him 
to clutch the vitals of the country. The perils of the position 
were brought home to Frenchmen very early in the year, when 
on January 8 the Germans attacked north of the Aisne near 
Soissons and drove the French back across the river. Owing 
to the transport of large numbers of German troops to the 
Russian front the Allies were numerically considerably superior 
in the west. This superiority would increase with the arrival 
of British reinforcements and the development of the man- 
power of France, but might be circumscribed if the Germans 
decided to adopt a defensive policy in the east and bring 
troops back to France. Further, Russia by her bold invasion 
of East Prussia had rendered priceless aid to France during 
the crisis of August 1914, and, now that the Germans were 
pressing her, Joffre felt himself impelled by moral as much as 
material considerations to reject a policy of passive waiting for 
reinforcements and the better equipment of his armies. 

The French military world was no more ready than that of 
other countries for the conditions of trench warfare. The 
provision of heavy artillery was in a measure facilitated by the 
British fleet, which enabled France to draw upon her coast 


defences, but the mass production of ammunition and trench 
stores had to be organised from the beginning. Mistakes in 
such circumstances were inevitable, and the overhasty manu- 
facture of high-explosive shell by unskilled hands led in the 
early battles of 1915 to the destruction by premature explosion 
of a large number of the precious 75' s. But France's plans 
for the mobilisation of her industries were quickly prepared and 
skilfully designed, and she first of the Allies was in a position 
to meet the vast demands of trench warfare on a 500-mile 

Joffre, while awaiting supplies of men and material, engaged 
early in the year in a series of " nibbling" attacks in Flanders, 
Champagne and against the salient of St. Mihiel, which, if 
they yielded little visible result, were fruitful in experience of 
the new conditions of attack. He further arranged with Sir 
John French that as more British troops arrived Foch's men 
should be relieved in Belgium and sent into Artois, where, in 
conjunction with a British attack north of the La Bass6e Canal, 
a great effort should be made to take the Vimy Ridge and 
disengage Lille. As a preliminary to this campaign the British 
attacked and captured Neuve Chapelle on March 10, but this 
success was more than discounted at the end of April, when 
the Germans loosed clouds of poison gas against the compara- 
tively weak force of French troops whom Foch had left in the 
northern portion of the Ypres salient. The effect of the second 
battle of Ypres, which resulted, was to cripple very materially 
the power of the British to help Foch, and when on May 9 
he attacked south and north of the La Bassee Canal our efforts 
to help him petered out for want of ammunition and men 
by May 25. Foch however had meantime gained considerable 
success in the battle of Souchez (opposite Vimy), and this 
encouraged him to continue his efforts to drive back the 
Germans from the Vimy Ridge, despite the desperate character 
of the enemy's resistance. All through June and well into 
July the struggle continued. In their last efforts Foch's men 
reached the summit of the all-important ridge, but were unable 
to maintain themselves there, and Joffre on July 13 was forced 
by the enormous losses which Foch's armies had suffered and 
the exhaustion of his supplies of munitions to call a halt. The 
losses suffered in this battle of Souchez impressed and shocked 
Frenchmen very much as the losses of the Somme later impressed 
the British, and the consequences of the two battles were in 
some respects similar. 

The comparative failure of the summer campaign in no way 


caused Joffre to alter his opinion of the necessity of keeping up 
pressure upon the Germans in the western theatre of war. 
Russia was more than ever in need of his help, and any long 
pause in the operations in France and Flanders might allow 
the Germans to increase their forces in Eastern Europe. An- 
other ally, Serbia, was in an isolated position, and was threa- 
tened with attack ; further, Italy had begun a great battle on 
the Isonzo, and it was important to prevent the diversion of 
German troops to help Austria. These reasons, together with 
the importance of forcing the German line further back from 
the vitals of France, decided Joffre to prepare for a further 
great effort in the early autumn. By that time the British 
Army would have grown considerably with the arrival of the 
first Kitchener divisions, while the development of the man- 
power of France would be approaching its maximum, so that 
relatively to the Germans the Allies on the Western Front would 
be in great numerical superiority. It was impossible to say 
how long that superiority could be maintained, for the Germans 
might elect at any time to call a halt in Poland, as they had 
in Flanders in November 1914, and to bring back their troops 
to the west. A careful study of the battles which had taken 
place since the trench-barrier had been completed had led the 
French Staff to the conclusion that given a sufficiency of guns 
and shells it should be possible to blow a great breach in the 
enemy's defences through which the infantry might pour to 
the assault. The activities of the French Ministry of Muni- 
tions had assured to Joffre a great increase in the number of 
his guns, particularly of those of heavy calibre, and an adequate 
supply of ammunition. The increase of the British Army 
permitted an extension of its front, and this would give Joffre 
more French troops for his battle. So it was arranged that 
the British should extend their right beyond the La Bassee 
Canal to the neighbourhood of Loos, where they came into 
touch with the left of Foch's group of armies. 

Joffre planned two great attacks. In the north the British 
Army was to assault between the La Bassee Canal and Loos, 
while Foch to the south of Lens was to make another effort to 
secure the Vimy Ridge and to advance beyond it on Douai. 
Joffre's main battle was to take place in Champagne to the east 
of Reims, and there the greatest mass of troops which had 
yet been brought together on the Western Front was assembled. 
Both battles began on September 25. The British, using 
poison gas for the first time, captured Loos ; but Foch's men, 
weakened and wearied by their long efforts in the battle of 


Souchez, failed to capture the Vimy Ridge. This failure left 
the Germans in Artois free to concentrate their efforts upon the 
British, who were checked. The great attack in Champagne 
met with little better success. The first two German lines were 
overwhelmed and a large number of prisoners and guns were 
captured, but the enemy stoutly held his third line, and the 
high hopes entertained by France were far from being realised. 
The problem of penetrating the trench-barrier had not been 
solved. True, the bombardment had torn a great breach in 
the enemy's defences, but it had also so destroyed the surface 
of the country that the task of bringing up reinforcements 
at the right time and in good order proved insuperable, while 
the enemy, keeping his reserves out of shell-fire, was able to get 
them to the battlefield in time to prevent the disruption of 
his front. 

While the battle in Champagne was still in progress the 
failure of the Dardanelles campaign had to be admitted, and 
a new danger in the Near East developed. The threatened 
attack by German and Austrian troops took place upon Serbia, 
and Bulgaria declared war and joined them. Against these 
overwhelming odds the collapse of the Serbian Army was 
necessarily rapid, and the problem for the Allies was how to 
save the remnant of that Army. In an attempt to solve this 
problem French and British troops were diverted from the 
Dardanelles early in October and landed at Salonika, and it 
was decided to transfer divisions of both armies from France 
to the same place. These troops were not in time to join the 
Serbians, but they succeeded in fortifying and holding an 
entrenched position covering the town and harbour of Salonika. 
The year 1915 therefore closed gloomily for the Allied cause. 
The Russians had lost Warsaw, Przemysl and Lemberg, and 
were woefully short of arms and ammunition. Serbia had 
been overrun, Italy could make no advance on the Isonzo, the 
adventures of the Allies in the east had failed and the barrier 
in. the west had proved impenetrable. The bright spots in 
the picture were that at sea the Allies remained supreme, 
despite the depredations of the German U-boats, and that the 
military power of the British Empire had not yet reached its 
full development. 

(c) 1916 

M. Briand, who had succeeded M. Viviani as Prime Minister 
in October 1915, was sympathetic to the idea, which gained 
F 13 


more and more support in France, of attacking the enemy 
elsewhere than on the Western Front, and he vigorously sup- 
ported the Salonika enterprise. In January 1916 the French 
occupied Corfu and undertook the reorganisation of what was 
left of the Serbian Army, while General Sarrail was appointed 
to command all the Allied troops in Salonika. M. Briand also 
worked energetically to obtain an extension of this principle 
of unity of command, but opinion amongst the Allies was not 
yet ripe for a practical solution of this problem. A beginning 
was however made by Joffre, who in December 1915 called 
a conference of Allied Commanders-in- Chief and Chiefs of the 
Staff to concert a combined campaign for the coming year. A 
scheme of action was agreed upon, but before it could be 
realised the Germans had intervened. Throughout January 
and the early part of February the enemy was very active, 
making local attacks in Champagne, Flanders, Artois, Picardy, 
on the Somme and in Alsace. The diversity of these efforts 
indicated that the German object was to distract attention 
from some larger enterprise, and on February 21 a great bom- 
bardment of the French lines on either bank of the Meuse in 
the Verdun zone disclosed the enemy's real intentions. The 
bombardment was followed on the right bank of the river by 
an infantry assault in mass, which gained an alarming degree 
of success, the Germans breaking through the field-defences 
and pushing their way forward to the outer line of the per- 
manent forts of Verdun. On February 25 the position was 
highly critical. By an accident Fort Douaumont, one of the 
chief of the outer forts, was left without a proper garrison, and 
an adventurous party of Germans found their way into the 
work. For a time it appeared probable that it would be 
necessary to abandon Verdun, but that calamity was averted 
by the courage and judgement of Castelnau, who had become 
Joffre's chief assistant and had been sent by the Commander- 
in-Chief to the post of danger. Castelnau reorganised the 
command, regulated the arrival of reinforcements and ener- 
getically applied Joffre's instructions forbidding any retreat. 
On the 26th the Germans were repulsed in attempting to issue 
beyond Douaumont ; and Castelnau' s immediate task com- 
pleted, he returned to Headquarters, leaving the command at 
Verdun in the hands of General Petain, who had been steadily 
winning his way to the front from the day when as a colonel 
he, in August 1914, took a prominent part in defending the 
right flank of Lanrezac's Army in the battle of Charleroi. 
In order to shorten the front and to economise troops for use 


at more important parts of the front, the French troops hold- 
ing the plain of the Woevre had been drawn back to the heights 
of the Meuse in the early days of the battle. But Joffre fore- 
saw from the first that the Germans were in deadly earnest, 
and that a vital and prolonged struggle had begun. He desired 
therefore to effect far more considerable economies and to 
accumulate large reserves. He therefore requested Sir Douglas 
Haig, whose army was growing in strength, to relieve all the 
French troops north of the Somme, a measure which placed 
an entire army at his disposal. Thus assured of reserves, the 
French Commander-in-Chief directed the minds of his sub- 
ordinates towards counter-attack as the one sure means of 
exhausting the enemy and bringing him to a stand. Thinking 
in terms of the whole front, and not merely of the situation at 
Verdun, he planned in addition to a number of local attacks, 
to be delivered as and when opportunity offered, a general 
counter-offensive, and for this he asked Sir Douglas Haig to 
prepare on the Somme front, promising to support him as his 
means admitted when the calls of the battle of Verdun had 
been met. 

So the long struggle continued. The German Crown Prince, 
always hoping that one more effort would gain him the prize 
he sought, redoubled his efforts, now on the right bank of the 
Meuse, now on the left, sometimes on both sides simultaneously. 
On the other side Petain, supplied by Joffre with reinforce- 
ments, as the need arose, nourished the defence and struck 
back when he could, while further north Haig was busy pre- 
paring for a great counter-blow. On March 1 a great German 
attack on Fort Vaux was repulsed and, the battle extending 
to the left bank of the Meuse, an attempt to capture the Mort- 
Homme Hill also ended in failure. Bombardment and attack 
followed each other in quick succession, the Germans usually 
gaining just sufficient ground to encourage them to another 
effort. At the end of March they gained a footing on the 
summit of the Mort-Homme, but a great attack delivered by 
them on April 10, by which they hoped to win the whole of 
this important hill, was repulsed. A very gallant attempt by 
the French to retake Douaumont which followed met with a 
like fate. During May the battle surged fiercely on the left 
bank of the river, for the Crown Prince found that the French 
fire from the heights on that side prevented the progress of his 
men on the right bank. Repeated attacks on the Mort-Homme 
were beaten off by the French, but on May 21 they were at last 
successful, and the whole of the blood-soaked ridge was in 


their hands. This was the prelude to further German attacks 
on the right bank, and on June 7 these yielded them the pos- 
session of the wreck of Fort Vaux. 

On the 23rd Thiaumont also fell, and Joffre was aware that 
he could not ask the defenders of Verdun to endure more. A 
little more progress on either bank of the river and Verdun 
must have fallen, while the strain of four months of defensive 
battle was sapping the strength of the French Army. Haig 
was ready north of the Somme, and, despite all the calls of 
Verdun, Joffre had been able to supply Foch with enough men 
and material to co-operate with the British south of the river ; 
and so, while the situation at Verdun was still critical, a great 
Anglo-French attack on July 1 began the battle of the Somme. 
Joffre had attained his object. Verdun was still in his hands, 
and he had been able to wait till the last possible moment, 
that is until the enemy had endured the maximum of exhaustion 
from his prolonged efforts, before ordering the great counter- 
offensive which had long been prepared. The Germans, thinking 
that the French would have little to spare from Verdun for 
a battle elsewhere, were not prepared for Foch's attack south 
of the Somme, which gained a great success and drove the 
enemy from the greater part of the angle of the river west of 
Peronne. The British, north of the river, met with stouter 
resistance, and had to fight their way doggedly up the slopes of 
the chalk down, gaining ground always, but slowly and at 
great cost. None the less the battle of the Somme had the 
immediate effect of relieving Verdun, for the enemy had to 
transfer at once men and guns to meet the Anglo-French 
attack. Towards the end of June a great Austrian attack in 
the Alps which the enemy had hoped to combine with the fall 
of Verdun petered out, and the Italians striking back retook 
the positions of Arsiero and Asiago which they had lost. Away 
in the east the Russians, acting under Joffre's advice, had in 
the same month begun a great offensive in the Ukraine and 
Bukovina. In the latter Brussilov was particularly successful, 
and the Austrians were driven back into the Carpathians. 
Towards the end of July the Serbian Army, reconstituted under 
French supervision, came into action on the Salonika front, 
and Joffre had secured the definite promise of Russian and 
Italian reinforcements for the Allied army in Macedonia. In 
Italy Cadorna was preparing another great attack on the Isonzo, 
an attack which developed early in August and resulted in the 
capture of Gorizia. 

Joffre's counter-offensive was therefore planned on no mean 


scale. The enemy were being pressed simultaneously on the 
Somme, in the Alps, on the Isonzo and in the Carpathians, 
while Sarrail at Salonika was ready to do his best as opportunity 
offered. Never again until the closing phase of the war was 
such complete unity of action attained on the Allied fronts. 
But Joffre, not satisfied with this great achievement, was 
eager to extend the front of attack, and bring in another ally. 
Romania had for a long time, like the poor cat in the adage, 
been " letting I dare not wait upon I would." Joffre, through 
his Government, brought every possible pressure to bear to 
hasten her into the field, so that she should strike while the 
Austrian armies were reeling back along the northern frontier 
before the blows of Brussilov. Unfortunately Romania 
hesitated too long. She did not declare war until August 21, 
by which time the impetus of Brussilov' s drive through the 
Bukovina had died down. The Austrians had rallied, and the 
Germans, now directed by Hindenburg and Ludendorff, 
summoned by the Kaiser to Great Headquarters to extricate 
Germany from the dangers which threatened her on every 
side, had managed to get together a reserve to meet the new 

During September, though it was already obvious that the 
results of Romania's intervention would not be so great as 
had been expected, the affairs of the Allies seemed in good case. 
The British had captured Ginchy, Combles and Thiepval, 
and were well-established on the Somme downs. Sarrail, 
flinging his left forward in Macedonia, had occupied Fiorina, 
and the Italians on the Isonzo were still making slow progress. 
In October however Romania, attacked by Germans and 
Austrians on her northern front and by Germans and Bul- 
garians in the Dobruja, had to yield everywhere, and it became 
clear that one more small Power must inevitably fall a victim 
to the skill with which the Germans used the advantages of 
their central position. But on the Western Front there were 
compensations. The Germans had been forced by the British 
advance up the Somme ridges into a very uncomfortable 
position in the valley of the Ancre, while on the Verdun front 
Nivelle, on October 25, began a brilliantly-planned attack 
which drove the Germans out of Fort Douaumont, and a few 
days later gained possession of Fort Vaux. 

In the middle of November, when it had become evident 
that the conditions of the weather and the exhaustion of the 
British troops would bring the battle of the Somme to a close, 
Joffre and Haig met at Chant illy, to decide on further plans. 


It was agreed that, despite their success in Romania, the 
Germans were in great difficulties, but Joffre, realising what 
the defence of Verdun had cost his army, insisted that during 
the campaign of next year the brunt of the work must fall 
upon the British Army, which was to be further reinforced 
both from Egypt and from home. Haig entirely agreed, and 
was ready to keep up pressure on the Germans during the winter 
on the Somme front, and to prepare for a combined attack 
with Joffre as early as possible in the spring. There were 
however influential soldiers in the French Army and influential 
politicians at Paris who regarded it as a slur upon France 
that the supreme effort in what they hoped would be the final 
stage of the war should fall to a foreign army. There had 
been many active critics of Joffre, who held that the de- 
fences of Verdun had been inadequate, and that the Germans 
ought never to have gained there the advantage they had won. 
It was said that Joffre was past his best and was worn out by 
the great burden of responsibility which he had borne for so 
long, while Foch too was supposed to be in much the same 
condition ; and there were many who did not forgive him the 
heavy losses which his unsuccessful assaults upon the Vimy 
Ridge had cost. The outcome of discussion and intrigue was 
that M. Briand reorganised his Cabinet ; Joffre was made a 
Marshal of France and placed on the shelf ; Foch was retired 
on half-pay, and General Nivelle, the hero of the most recent 
French counter-attacks at Verdun, became Commander-in- 
Chief of the French Armies. The plan drawn up by Joffre and 
Haig went into the waste-paper basket, and a fresh scheme for 
the campaign of 1917 was drawn up. 

(d) 1917 

By an arrangement come to between the British and French 
Governments in February 1917 the British Army was placed 
under the general direction of Nivelle for the forthcoming 
campaign. The essential difference between Nivelle' s plan 
and that agreed upon by Haig and Joffre was that the part to 
be taken by the French Army was much more important. 
Nivelle, using his own troops for the purpose, proposed to 
attempt to break clean through the German defences on a wide 
front in one supreme effort. It was in fact an application of 
the same principle as had governed Joffre's attack in Champagne 
in 1915, but on a much larger scale. The plan commended itself 
to the statesmen of Paris and London because it promised a 


quick decision ; success or failure would be determined in a 
short period, and there would be no repetition of the long 
struggles of Verdun and the Somme with their terrible casualty 
lists. To obtain the French troops required for the execution 
of this plan, Nivelle requested Haig to make a considerable 
extension of the British line and at the same time to co-operate 
with his main effort by an attack on the Arras-Bapaume 
fronts. In order to relieve the French troops on his right, 
and at the same tune prepare for battle, Haig had to await 
the arrival of further divisions, which he knew were coming 
to him, and to reduce very considerably the pressure which 
he had agreed with Joffre to maintain upon the Germans on 
the Somme battlefield during the winter. The consequence of 
this was to postpone the projected date for the new offensive, 
and to leave the Germans free to get themselves out of the 
difficult position in which the battle of the Somme had left 
them. Joffre and Haig had planned to be ready on February 1, 
but Nivelle' s offensive could not begin until April 9, when the 
1st and 3rd British Armies carried the Vimy Ridge and made 
considerable progress east of Arras. This two months' post- 
ponement had a disastrous effect upon the whole campaign of 
the year, for the subsequent British offensive in Flanders was 
grievously hampered by the rains of an unusually wet summer 
and autumn, and before the last British blow could be delivered 
in November a German-Austrian offensive in Italy had 
deranged the Allied plans. Further, while Nivelle' s battle 
was in preparation Ludendorff skilfully withdrew from his 
entanglements on the Somme into a formidable series of 
defences which he had prepared during the winter, to become 
famous as the " Hindenburg Line." 

This withdrawal began at the end of February and was not 
completed until early in April. It affected a considerable part 
of the front which Nivelle had been preparing to attack, and 
necessitated a hasty recasting of plans, while Ludendorff on 
a shorter front and in better defences was able to reduce 
the number of troops in the line for the benefit of the reserves. 
Nor were these the only difficulties which Nivelle had to face. 
M. Briand's Government fell early in March and was succeeded 
by one formed by M. Ribot with M. Painleve as War Minister. 
Painleve had no great belief in Nivelle' s plan of breaking 
through in one great rush, and these doubts were shared by 
many of Nivelle' s own generals, notably by Petain. These 
difficulties were however not known to the French Army at 
large, nor to the French public, and the success of the British 


Army at Arras and particularly the capture of the Vimy 
Ridge, which had for so long resisted Foch's efforts, aroused 
the highest expectation of what the French Army would do. 
The strength of that army was at its greatest and on April 1 
amounted to 2,905,000 men, a figure which was never again 
attained. The disillusionment was therefore great when the 
armies of Franchet d'Esperey, who had succeeded Foch in 
command on the British right, failed on April 14 to make any 
impression upon the Hindenburg Line in the neighbourhood 
of St. Quentin ; and it became profound when Nivelle's great 
effort on the Aisne, instead of bursting through the German 
trenches in one great bound as had been hoped, was, after the 
first German lines had been carried, brought to a standstill by 
the German machine guns. Following the British example 
large numbers of tanks had been prepared, and were tried for 
the first time on a large scale. But the French tanks were a 
grievous disappointment. The infantry had not been trained 
to co-operate with them, they proved to be much slower in 
their movements over the shell-torn ground than had been 
anticipated, and as they were expected to advance to a great 
distance they were overloaded with petrol which burst into 
flames under the enemy's fire. On the evening of the first day 
of the battle of the Aisne it was clear that Nivelle's plan had 
failed. There was some acrimonious discussion between the 
French Government and the French Command as to whether 
or no the operations should be continued on a modified scale, 
and in fact they were so continued until May 20. Five days 
before this date the Government removed Nivelle from the 
supreme command, which was given to Petain, who at the end 
of April had been made Chief of the Staff in Paris. Petain 
was succeeded in this appointment by Foch, recalled from 

As wise old Joffre had foreseen in the previous winter, the 
long strain of war had told upon the French Army. The 
enormous losses which it suffered had weakened its power of 
resisting misfortune, while into the disappointed and weakened 
army there came from the interior an increasing volume of 
defeatist propaganda, which had found a ready reception 
amongst certain classes of the war-weary people. The result 
was that at the end of May a formidable series of mutinies 
broke out, which for a time completely crippled the French 
Army. This was the more serious, seeing that in March 
revolution had broken out in Russia, the Tsar had abdicated, 
and it appeared very probable that the Eastern European front 


would collapse altogether if the enemy were given time to press 
the Russians while the latter were in process of organising a 
new regime. In these circumstances Petain appealed to Haig 
to keep up the utmost possible pressure upon the Germans in 
the west, and the British Army accordingly began on June 7 
its campaign in Flanders by capturing the Messines Ridge. 
On July 31 the British attacked on the Ypres front and, with a 
French Army under General Anthoine on their left, fought 
their way very slowly up the ridges to Passchendaele. 

Ere the third battle of Ypres had begun, the entry of the 
United States into the war had been followed at the end of 
June by the arrival of the first American troops in France, an 
event which went far to counterbalance the depressing news 
from Russia, and helped Petain materially in his task of restoring 
the moral of the French armies. Another encouraging event 
which took place about the same time was the abdication of 
Constantine, the advent of M. Venizelos to power at Athens 
and the declaration of war by Greece upon Germany, Austria, 
Bulgaria and Turkey. The situation of the army at Salonika 
was much eased when it had at its back a certain friend instead 
of a possible foe. 

By intense personal energy, by wise concessions in such 
matters as leave, and by carefully regulating the length of 
time spent in the front-line trenches, Petain, while Haig was 
doing the fighting, was bringing back the French Army to its 
old confidence in itself. To complete this work he planned 
with great care a series of attacks with limited objectives, 
which promised important results at the smallest possible 
sacrifice of life. The first of these attacks began at the end 
of August on the left bank of the Meuse, in the Verdun sector, 
and was a complete success, the whole of the famous Mort- 
Homme hill being wrested from the enemy, who was driven 
back to the positions from which he had started in February 
1916. This success was followed on October 23 by a similar 
attack on the Aisne front entrusted to the army of General 
Maistre, who gained possession of the whole of the important 
Chemin des Dames Ridge and compelled the Germans to retire 
across the Ailette. With this brilliant success Petain' s 
immediate task was ended. The French Army was again 
ready for any task which war might bring to it. On November 6 
the third battle of Ypres ended with the British on the 
Passchendaele ridge, and a fortnight later, on November 20, 
the British made their surprise attack with tanks at Cambrai. 
But before this the battle of Caporetto, which began on the 


Italian front on October 24, had confronted the Allies with a 
new crisis. It became necessary to hurry French and British 
reinforcements to Italy ; six French divisions were quickly on 
the way, while Foch himself left for Italy to superintend the 
disposition of these reinforcements. More important still, the 
crisis brought about the conference of Rapallo on November 6, 
at which was established (November 9) the Supreme War 
Council for the better co-ordination of Allied policy and 
strategy, while, as an aftermath, M. Painleve resigned office 
on November 16 and was succeeded as Premier by M. Clemen- 
ceau. The Italian Front was steadied, but the year closed 
gloomily for the Allies, for just before Christmas peace nego- 
tiations between Russia and Germany opened at Brest-Litovsk. 
It had for some time been obvious that the Germans would be 
free during the winter and spring to dispose of the bulk of 
their troops now on the Russian Front, and already at the end 
of the year there were indications of a great movement from 
east to west. It was certain that the American troops could 
not reach France at a corresponding rate, and that the Allies 
in the west must therefore be thrown for some time on the 
defensive and be ready for a supreme effort by Germany. 

(e) 1918 

At a meeting of the Supreme War Council held at the end 
of January 1918 the position of the Allies was reviewed and 
plans for the future were considered. The immediate outlook 
was not satisfactory. The French Army had been declining 
steadily in strength from the maximum which it had reached 
in April 1917. No less than 700,000 men had been withdrawn 
from the colours to the fields and factories, for the depredations 
of the German U-boats and the consequent shortage of Allied 
shipping made it necessary that France should be, as far as 
possible, self-supporting in food and munitions. The divisions 
had therefore been reduced in strength, and then, as their 
maintenance even on a reduced scale became impossible, 
certain of them had to be broken up. The British Army was 
in a very similar condition, for the British Government de- 
clared itself unable to find more men, and therefore the British 
divisions had to be reduced in size. At the same time the 
French Government insisted that with its reduced establish- 
ments its army could no longer be responsible for so large a 
proportion of the Western Front as it had been holding, and 
the British Army had therefore to take over a considerable 


proportion of the line south of the Somme. On the other 
side German divisions from the Eastern Front were arriving in 
France and Belgium at the rate of from ten to twelve a month, 
and it was clear that in the spring the Allies would be in a 
considerable numerical inferiority, which the influx of American 
troops could hardly redress before August. In these difficult 
circumstances the Supreme War Council was forced to consider 
seriously the question of unity of command on the Western 
Front. The political and military difficulties which stood in 
the way of a practical solution of this problem however 
appeared insuperable, and an unsatisfactory compromise 
resulted. It was agreed to form a general reserve to be com- 
posed of contingents supplied from each of the Allied armies 
on the Western Front and from the Italian Army, and to place 
the reserve under an executive committee of the Supreme War 
Council, composed of Allied generals with Foch as chairman. 
This measure was faulty in that a committee is never a satis- 
factory medium for the exercise of executive military command, 
while a committee composed of generals each responsible to 
his own Government and dependent for his information on 
different armies and War Offices contained an aggravation of 
the defects of committees in general. Further, the measure 
divided responsibility, since it left the commanders-in-chief 
responsible for their respective fronts but placed the reserves 
in other hands. The Executive Committee had in fact a very 
short life, for both Haig and Petain decided early in March that 
they, in view of the accumulation of German troops on their 
fronts, could not meet the demands made upon them by Versailles 
for divisions for the General Reserve; and that Reserve was 
never formed. 

On March 21 the blow fell upon the 3rd and 5th British 
Armies. Haig and Petain had previously worked out plans 
for the mutual reinforcement of their respective fronts, and in 
accordance with these plans General Pelle's Army Corps came 
to the help of the right of the 5th Army on March 22, to be 
followed by Humbert's 3rd Army and Debeney's 1st Army, 
both placed under the command of Fayolle, who assumed 
control of all troops, both French and British, between the 
Somme and the Oise. These reinforcements however did not 
suffice to stop the German advance. Petain felt himself too 
weak to maintain touch with the British Army and at the 
same time close the road to Paris, while Haig had no more men 
to spare to cover Amiens. The danger that the enemy would 
drive a breach between the British and French Armies was 


imminent, and in this emergency an Allied conference summoned 
at Haig's instance met at Doullens on March 26, and charged 
Foch with the mission of co-ordinating the action of the Allied 
Armies on the Western Front. Foch at once issued orders 
that the connection between the two armies was to be main- 
tained and hastened the rate of the arrival of reinforcements 
at the danger-point. Michelin's 5th Army was withdrawn 
from the Champagne front, and four divisions of Maistre's 10th 
Army were brought back to France from Italy, while reinforce- 
ments were hurried out to the British Army from England and 
British troops were ordered to France from Italy, Salonika 
and Palestine. Thus assured of reserves, Foch, having brought 
the German advance south of the Somme to a standstill, was 
preparing a counter-offensive when on April 9 the British 
front in Flanders was driven in, and a new crisis had to be 
faced. French reinforcements were at once sent north, and 
the second great German attack of the year was checked on 
April 29, but not until Kemmel Hill, which French troops had 
taken over on their arrival, had been captured by the Germans. 

The second German attack having been definitely stopped 
on April 29, Foch again turned his mind to counter-attack, the 
special object which he had in mind being the freeing of the 
important Paris-Amiens Railway, the main lateral artery of 
communication between the British and French Armies. This 
plan had the greater importance in his eyes as he expected 
that the next German attempt would be another effort to win 
Amiens. Instead, on May 27 the enemy began a great attack 
upon the Chemin des Dames position, part of which was occupied 
by British divisions, weakened and wearied by the earlier 
battles. The Germans brought off a very complete surprise, 
broke through the defences with extraordinary rapidity, forced 
their way across the Aisne and advanced to the Marne between 
Dormans and Chateau Thierry. Here they were checked by 
the timely arrival of the 2nd American Division, followed almost 
immediately by the 3rd, the American troops being supported 
later by the transfer of French reserves from Flanders. So 
the third German offensive was checked, but not before the 
enemy had established himself on the Marne within forty miles 
of Paris. With the opening of this offensive the Germans had 
begun to bombard Paris with a long-range gun, nicknamed 
Big Bertha, and the alarm in the French capital caused an 
exodus comparable to that which took place in August 1914. 

This German victory was a terrible shock both to France 
in general and to the French Army in particular. It had been 


possible to attribute the earlier failures of the Allies to the 
weakness of the British Army and to the absence of effective 
unity of command, but here were the Germans breaking through 
one of the strongest French positions with Foch in supreme 
control. But if the French public were shaken, neither M. 
Clemenceau in Paris nor Foch at his headquarters despaired. 
The latter saw that the Germans had made a serious error in 
turning away from the British Army and leaving it time to 
recover, and that the pronounced and narrow salient which 
they had driven into the Allied front had placed them in a 
dangerous position. The British Army relieved from pressure 
was recovering rapidly and was daily receiving reinforcements. 
At the time of the Doullens Conference Pershing, the American 
Commander-in-Chief, had placed all his troops at Foch's dis- 
posal, at that time amounting to four divisions, of which 
two were ready to fight. Now the number of American divi- 
sions fit to go into the line was steadily increasing, and would 
increase. Ludendorff despite all his success had failed to 
gain a decisive victory, and the time within which decisive 
victory was possible for him was slipping away. Like Foch 
he saw the dangerous position of his troops in the Marne salient, 
and his next effort was meant to improve that position. On 
June 9 v. Hutier attacked Humbert's 3rd Army on the Noyon 
front with the object of gaining Compiegne and linking up the 
Marne salient with the salient made towards Amiens in the 
battles of March. Hutier, after gaining some preliminary 
success, was counter-attacked by Mangin's Army, which re- 
covered much of the lost ground. The Germans did not reach 
Compiegne, and the Marne salient remained as pronounced 
as ever. 

Early in July it became evident that the enemy was prepar- 
ing for other battles on the Marne and in Champagne. General 
Gouraud, who commanded the 4th Army on the Champagne 
front, was peculiarly well informed of the German preparations 
and was fully prepared for the blow when it fell on July 15. 
The German attack to the east of Reims was shattered, and 
this failure alone doomed Ludendorff 's plan, which was to cut 
out Reims by great attacks on either side of the city. But 
worse was to come for the Germans. Their attack to the 
west of Reims at first met with some success ; but on July 18 
Foch struck against the Marne salient the blow for which he 
had been awaiting the opportunity. Mangin, who now com- 
manded the 10th Army and had been reinforced by American 
and British divisions, launched more than 300 tanks, which 


since their dSbut in the previous year had been much improved, 
against the German lines and, following these up with his 
infantry, drove so deeply into the western flank of the Marne 
salient as to imperil the communications of all the Germans 
within it and to hasten and prolong the retreat which Luden- 
dorff had already ordered upon hearing of the failure of the 
attack upon Gouraud. Foch, who had conceived this counter- 
attack, twice intervened in its execution, once on July 16, when 
the cautious Petain wished in view of the weight of the German 
attack to limit its scope, and a second time on the 18th, when 
he was disposed to advise Mangin to be content with what he 
had done. Foch had no intention of holding his hand while a 
single German remained in the Marne salient. Therefore as 
soon as Mangin' s success was certain Degoutte's 6th Army, 
with its strong contingent of American troops, followed the 
enemy across the Marne, pushing northwards, while Berthelot's 
5th Army strengthened by British divisions forced in the 
eastern face of the Marne salient, from which the Germans 
were driven back across the Aisne by August 4. Three days 
later on August 7 a grateful Government conferred on Foch 
the title of Marshal of France. On April 24 he had been for- 
mally appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Allied Armies on 
the Western Front, and now in all the countries of the Allies 
his genius and courage were recognised as placing him in a 
position of unchallenged authority. 

As soon as it was certain that the second battle of the Marne 
would end in a great victory for the Allies, Foch on July 24 
assembled Haig, Petain and Pershing at his headquarters and 
expounded to them his plans. He had not then made up his 
mind that victory in 1918 was possible ; but as the German 
forces had passed their climacteric and were dwindling, while 
250,000 American troops were landing in France every month, 
he had determined that the time had come to accelerate the 
exhaustion of the Germans while conserving the strength of 
the Allies, and he proposed to do so by delivering a series of 
attacks with definite but limited objectives. Thus he would 
avoid a long-drawn battle such as that of the Somme with its 
inevitable tale of heavy losses, while he drew in and used up 
the enemy's reserves. The first of these attacks was the con- 
tinuance of the Allied offensive on the Marne until the Germans 
were driven over the Vesle and the Aisne, and the railway 
connecting Paris and Verdun was freed. The second, which, 
as has been mentioned, Foch had long had in mind, and for 
which Haig was already preparing, was designed to free the 


Paris-Amiens Railway. The third was to be in Pershing' s 
charge and was intended to free the line connecting Verdun 
and Nancy. The fourth was to drive the enemy from the 
Bethune-Lens coalfields, and the fifth to remove the danger to 

The first of this series of operations having been brought to 
a brilliant conclusion on August 4, Haig began the second on 
the Amiens front on August 8 with Rawlinson' s 4th Army, 
Debeney's 1st Army co-operating on his right. Rawlinson 
effected a complete surprise and bit deep into the Amiens 
salient, and when, on August 9, the front of battle was extended 
by the intervention of Humbert's 3rd Army on Debeney's right, 
that salient began to disappear as had the salient of the Marne. 
On August 12 Haig, finding the German resistance stiffening 
in front of Peronne, switched the battle northwards, and on 
August 21 Byng's 3rd Army began the battle of Bapaume. It 
was now evident that the Germans were undertaking a retreat 
comparable in extent to that which they had carried out in 
1917, but this time under far greater pressure from the Allies. 
The British reoccupied Merville on August 19, Bapaume on the 
29th and Bailleul on the 30th, while on that day too Hum- 
bert's 3rd Army entered Noyon. Ludendorff was endeavouring 
to shorten his front in Flanders and at the same time further 
south was in full retreat to the shelter of the Hindenburg line, 
losing heavily in killed, wounded, prisoners and guns. On 
September 2 Home's 1st Army hastened this retreat by break- 
ing through the northern extension of the Hindenburg line, 
known as the Drocourt switch, a success which went far towards 
freeing the coalfields, and while Rawlinson, Byng and Home 
were pressing back the retreating enemy on September 13 
Pershing attacked the St. Mihiel salient upon both sides and 
in forty-eight hours had obliterated it. 

In two months Foch's successive blows had effected a com- 
plete change in the balance of power. The Germans, unable 
to replace their heavy losses, had to break up some of their 
divisions to keep the remainder at strength, and whereas in 
June they had 207 divisions on the Western Front, in September 
the number had fallen to 185. In July Haig had 53 divisions 
fit to take the field, in September he had 59, Pershing could 
give Foch 25, each double the strength of a German division, 
and there were more to come, so that with 102 French, 12 
Belgian and 2 Italian divisions the Allied superiority in numbers 
was great, and in material it was even greater. Even so it was 
questionable whether it was wiser to attack the formidable 


Hindenburg line at once or to wait for the certain reinforcement 
which America would send. In this the heaviest task would 
fall upon the British Army, and the answer therefore depended 
upon Haig's decision. Haig had absolute confidence in his 
men and gave his vote for a determined effort to secure victory 
in 1918. So towards the end of September the word went 
forth for a general offensive along the whole front. This 
offensive was not confined to France and Belgium, for on 
September 15 Franchet d'Esperey, the successor of Sarrail in 
command in Macedonia, began a general attack on the Bul- 
garians, who collapsed with dramatic suddenness and sought 
an armistice on September 25. On September 19 Allenby 
launched his troops against the Turkish lines in Palestine, and 
eleven days later British troops entered Damascus. On 
October 24 Diaz took the offensive in Italy, and three days 
later the Austrian Government was suing for terms. 

But on the main front the Germans, though sorely pressed, 
were far from beaten, and in order to beat them Foch began 
the decisive battle on September 26 with a great attack by 
Gouraud's 4th Army and the American 1st Army on either 
side of the Argonne. On the 27th Byng's and Home's Armies 
broached the Hindenburg line in the neighbourhood of Cambrai, 
while on the 28th King Albert of Belgium in command of the 
Belgian Army, Degoutte's 6th Army, which Foch had sent up 
to Flanders, and Plumer's 2nd Army advanced and drove 
the Germans from the Houthulst Forest and the ridges east 
of Ypres. Then on the 29th Rawlinson's 4th Army with 
Degoutte's 6th Army on his right attacked the Hindenburg 
line on either side of St. Quentin and forced their way through 
and beyond its formidable defences. In the centre Humbert's 
3rd Army, Mangin's 10th, and Guillaumat, who had succeeded 
Berthelot in charge of the 5th Army, pressed the enemy as he 
fell back and so the whole front from Dixmude to Verdun was 
ablaze. The Germans forced out of the Hindenburg line 
prepared to stand behind the Schelde, the Selle, the Upper 
Aisne and east of the Argonne, and on October 10 Foch issued 
instructions to the Allied Commanders-in-Chief for a fresh 
combined effort. Gouraud and the Americans were directed 
upon Mezieres and Sedan, the British Armies upon Mons and 
Avesnes and King Albert upon Ghent, while the French Armies 
of the centre followed the Germans as they gave way in con- 
sequence of the pressure on their flanks. On the 14th King 
Albert renewed his advance and caught the Germans before 
their plans for withdrawal behind the Schelde were complete, 


while on the 16th Gouraud crossed the Aisne, the Americans 
capturing Grand Pre the same day, and by the 24th Haig had 
forced the line of the Selle. Laon, Ostend, Lille, Zeebrugge 
and Bruges were taken in quick succession, and it became clear 
to Foch that Germans could not make an effective stand west 
of the Meuse. 

Knowing that rapid pursuit by the Allies, where roads and 
railways had been thoroughly destroyed, would not be possible, 
and that the enemy might gain time to rally behind the river, 
the Generalissimo on October 18 directed P6tain to prepare a 
new venture which should turn the Meuse by an advance into 
Lorraine and Luxembourg, on either side of Metz. For this 
movement the 2nd American Army and a group of French 
Corps placed under Mangin were preparing, and the first 
advance had indeed begun when the course of events elsewhere 
made it unnecessary to open a fresh campaign. From the 
North Sea to Metz the Germans, unable to replace their huge 
losses in men and material, and therefore growing every day 
weaker, gave way more and more readily before the advance 
of the Allies. On the right wing of the great drive the Ameri- 
cans, gathering momentum, broke through the last German 
defences and in a rapid pursuit entered Sedan on November 6. 
On the 10th Gouraud occupied Mezieres and Guillaumat on his 
left Charleville ; on the 9th the British entered Maubeuge, 
on the llth Mons. But the collapse in the interior of Ger- 
many was even more complete than that on the front, and on 
November 7 the German Government had decided to send 
emissaries to negotiate an armistice. On November 11 Foch 
imposed upon them terms which left them militarily helpless 
and were a clear acknowledgement of their defeat. 

Five days later, on November 16, French troops entered 
Alsace and Lorraine, again united to the motherland. On the 
19th Foch and Ptain led their soldiers into Metz, and on the 
25th into Strassburg and across the Rhine. The victory was 
complete, but France had had necessarily to bear the brunt of 
the struggle and had paid a terrible price for her triumph : 
1,300,000 of her sons had fallen, and more than 700,000 had 
lost sight or limb. From the North Sea to Switzerland there 
stretched an unbroken belt of devastation through some of 
what had been the richest industrial and agricultural districts 
of France; 590,000 houses had been destroyed, and whole 
villages had been so completely obliterated that there was 
less trace of them than of many a Roman Camp. In Reims, 
a town of more than 100,000 inhabitants, not a house was left 
F 14 


intact. In a great part of the principal weaving, sugar and 
coal areas of France all the factories had been destroyed. Such 
is the burden which France, with the prime of her manhood 
gone, and after more than four years of war waged on her own 
soil, has had to take upon her gallant but weary shoulders. 




FRANCE, when war broke out in August 1914, must have 
appeared to Germany to be an easy victim. The new Three 
Years' Military Service Law had not then produced its full 
effect, and the whole material and moral reorganisation and 
re-equipment of the army which it involved had not even 
been begun. Debates in the Senate had laid bare to the whole 
world the deficiencies of the French army in artillery, and 
particularly in heavy guns. Even the defensive system of the 
eastern and northern forts had been woefully neglected. 

Internal politics seemed to be on the point of bursting into 
one of those periodical conflagrations with which France had 
the habit of delighting her enemies and disheartening her friends. 
All the rowdy elements of partisanship had been mobilised 
during the last few months of peace to fight for or against 
Caillaux, the leader of the Radical Left, who for years had 
preached the gospel of rapprochement with Germany, and whose 
wife, after an amazing trial, was acquitted on the eve of war 
of the charge of having murdered Gaston Calmette, editor of 
the Figaro newspaper and one of her husband's most bitter 
political opponents. While Germany was secretly mobilising 
her millions of field-grey fighters the gangs of the Jeunesse 
Republicaine, representing the fighting elements of the Left, 
were nightly scrimmaging along the Paris boulevards with the 
Royalist bands of the Action Frangaise, and the streets rang 
with the contending cries of " Vive Caillaux ! " "A bas la 
guerre ! " " A Berlin ! " and " Vive 1'Armee ! ' : The President 
of the Republic, M. Poincare, and the Prime Minister and 


Minister of Foreign Affairs were absent on a visit to Russia. 
The moment seemed to the German to be ideal. 

Yet even the political acquittal of Madame Caillaux of the 
murder of which she tearfully acknowledged the guilt, even the 
assassination of the Socialist leader and idol Jaures, by a crazy 
Royalist, failed to prevent the essential unity of France from 
reasserting itself when the blow of war fell. 

The Mobilisation Order, placarded throughout France on 
August 1, first intimated to the nation that peace was at an 
end. It swept all recollection of Lefts or of Rights from the 
minds of the country, which with remarkable enthusiasm re- 
sponded to the appeal made in the Presidential message to 
Parliament three days later for the establishment of the union 
sacree. The discipline of patriotism alone ruled. Men such 
as Gustave Herve, who in one of his infamous anti-militarist 
speeches had " hoisted the flag of France on a dunghill " ; men 
such as Anatole France, who throughout his life had preached 
against war, rallied to defend the rights of their country. 
Revolutionaries who in the years of peace had drawn up plans 
for the sabotage of French mobilisation in the event of war 
now did their share to make of the first concentration of French 
troops an unqualified success. The operation was carried out 
with quiet efficiency, and there was an almost complete absence 
of the jingo spirit of " a Berlin ! " which had marked the 
opening of " Pannee terrible." The noisy patriotism of the few 
only threw into relief the stillness of the capital, which emptied 
as though by magic of its male inhabitants. The usual diffi- 
culties attendant upon the draining of man-power from work- 
shop and field, from mine and railway, were surmounted with 
little friction. The expedient of a moratorium settled the 
financial panic which threatened. Food supplies were well 
maintained, and the orders of the Government were obeyed 
without a murmur. A rigid censorship was imposed, and 
France prepared in August to wait in curious stillness for news 
from the front. 

It reached the capital only in rumour ; communique's were 
singularly reticent. The first news was good, and told of a 
success in Alsace. It was followed by silence, and it was not 
until the German was well advanced on his march to Paris that 
the War Office finally allowed the people to know of the 
disastrous battles of Charleroi and Namur, and the fighting 
retreat. The arrival of thousands of refugees within the 
walls of Paris had preceded the communique* and prepared 
people's minds for the worst, while the railway stations 


were filled with women and children hastening from the 

Steps were taken by the Government to give itself a repre- 
sentative political character. On August 26 M. Viviani, having 
resigned, was requested by the President of the Republic to 
form a fresh Government. In this new Cabinet Millerand 
replaced Messimy at the Ministry of War, and for the first 
time Socialists, in the persons of Marcel Sembat and Jules 
Guesde, took office. Delcass6, the veteran political opponent 
of Germany, took over again the department of Foreign Affairs 
from which the menaces of Germany had driven him at the 
time of the Moroccan crisis. The new Government as its first 
step issued a declaration which in sober and elevated language 
called upon the country to prepare for the stern struggle which 
lay ahead. The appointment of that doughty fighter General 
Gallieni to the post of Military Governor of Paris, and the arrival 
of German aircraft over the city, were further indications that 
the capital was about to be called upon to defend herself. 

Almost the first decision to be taken by the new Government 
was to leave Paris, where the military chiefs felt that its pre- 
sence, and that of the President of the Republic, could but 
have a cramping effect upon the execution of the military opera- 
tions for the defence of the capital. After much discussion it 
was decided in the late days of August to remove the seat of 
the Government to Bordeaux, in spite of the memories of 
disaster aroused by recollection of the sojourn in the western 
capital of the Government during the Franco-Prussian War. 
The move was prepared in great secrecy, in order to avoid any 
increase in the panic of the city. During the last week of 
August most of the ministries and embassies were packed up. 
The Government itself left on the night of September 2, and 
the news of its departure was intimated to Parisians the fol- 
lowing day in a stirring manifesto, in which the President of 
the Republic called upon the people of France to " endure and 
fight " for the freedom of their country. 

There followed days of agonising suspense ; then the first 
signs, and finally the certitude, of victory on the Marne. 

The Marne gave France the breathing-space necessary for 
her to put her war effort upon a proper scale and foundation. 
Her war industries completely lacked organisation. While to 
Great Britain the sea gave security and time for properly 
measured effort, France had to keep on fighting with her whole 
strength, and it was only little by little, after trench war had 
begun along the Aisne, that any programme for the future could 


be envisaged. The country had been within an ace of disaster, 
and salvation lay only in unremitting toil, in maintaining 
unrelaxed the discipline of patriotism and in keeping intact 
the union sacrte which had put an end to internal political 
strife and ambitions hi the first few weeks of war. 

Historically it is perhaps useless to speculate as to what 
might have happened politically had the Germans captured 
the capital. But the Government clearly had preoccupations 
of a political character when it appealed to all members of 
Parliament to follow it in its exile to Bordeaux. The Paris 
deputies naturally remained behind, and formed a committee 
for dealing with public affairs which for a day or two had some 
appearance of being a second Government, a character which 
was effaced after the visit of M. Briand, the Minister of Justice, 
to the capital. In Bordeaux itself politicians were of course 
no less talkative than they had been in Paris, and their dis- 
content was great when, with the approval of the general mass 
of the people, the Government decided to adjourn Parliament. 


The real Government of the country during these early 
months of the war was at General Headquarters, and nothing 
but dismay would have been caused by any formal resumption 
of Parliamentary activity. The responsibility of Government 
however remained the burden both of ministers and of Parlia- 
ment, and during the Bordeaux exile the demand of deputies 
for information, and their claim to exercise the constitutional 
right of controlling the acts of the Executive, became more and 
more pressing. When Parliament reopened in Paris on Decem- 
ber 22 the Premier, M. Viviani, outlined the war aims of his 
country, declaring : " France, in accord with her Allies, will 
not lay down her arms until she has avenged outraged right, 
regained for ever the provinces ravished from her by force, 
restored to heroic Belgium the plenitude of her material pros- 
perity and her political independence, and broken Prussian 

Deputies soon showed that they intended to be very freely 
consulted as to the methods by which these aims were to be 
attained, and that they also intended their criticisms upon 
Government action during the Bordeaux period to be tanta- 
mount to retrospective control. It was with the administra- 
tion of M. Millerand, Minister of War, that most fault was 
found. The inefficiency of the Army Medical Service had, 


thanks to the pen of that great journalist M. Clemenceau, 
become a public scandal of vast dimensions. Lacking either 
modern organisation, equipment or cadres at the beginning 
of the war, it was reduced to chaos by the pressure put upon 
it by the tremendous casualties of scientific warfare. Nothing 
was done at Bordeaux to remedy this state of affairs, which 
affected every family of France that had one of its number 
at the front. 

Far more important were the defects in the War Office 
revealed by the early fighting of 1915, when it became tragically 
apparent that the administration, in its haste to reply to the 
army's clamour for guns and shells, had adopted methods of 
manufacture which led to an abnormal number of premature 
shell-bursts and to the destruction of a perilously high propor- 
tion of French guns in action. 

These were the real and tangible causes of discontent with 
the Government ; but they concealed the beginning of a 
struggle of principles which continued unremittingly throughout 
the war until the ruthless energy of Clemenceau stifled all 
criticism. It was the fight inevitable in a newly-established 
democracy such as that of France, with its living memories 
of the Empire and the Commune and the formation of the 
Republic, and natural to a people with traditions of military 
glory, and with politicians suspicious of and dreading the 
possibility of coups d'etat and other manifestations of the 
militarist spirit. 

Beginning with a feeling of personal grievance that the 
Government and the Army were ignoring the part rightfully 
to be played by the Chambers in the conduct of the war, 
deputies soon discovered the great principle at stake, that of 
the right of Parliament as representing the people to control 
the Government and, through the Minister of War, the general 
treatment of military policy by the Commander-in-Chief and 
his Headquarters Staff. The ministerial crises which troubled 
France during the war were almost without exception due to 
some manifestation of the tussle between the Executive and 
the Army on one side and Parliament on the other. It was 
therefore inevitable that coincident with a political crisis there 
should have been on each occasion criticism of the Higher 
Command of the army. 

M. Millerand, the Minister of War, obstinately withstood all 
attacks made upon him and, at a time when even his fellow 
Cabinet Ministers were praying for his resignation, declined to 
leave office. Developments in quite another field in the Near 


East brought about the resignation of M. Delcass6, who was 
in disagreement with the Salonika policy ; and shortly after- 
wards, on October 29, M. Briand, who had been Viviani's 
Minister of Justice, succeeded him at the head of a government 
in which M. Millerand was replaced by General Galli6ni at the 
War Office, but which otherwise differed but little from its 

41 Through Victory to Peace " was the declared motto of the 
New Ministry, and one of its first concerns was to work for 
that unity among allies, both in action and in counsel, which 
the events of the first year of war had shown to be essential 
to victory. In the past co-ordinating machinery had been 
practically confined to the ordinary liaison services of the 
armies and the navies, while important matters of policy and 
strategy were superficially discussed at meetings hastily con- 
vened at Calais, Folkestone, London or Paris as occasion arose. 
There was no Allied mechanism entrusted with the duty either 
of framing plans for the future or of forging weapons for their 

The first requirement was an Allied Military Council. The 
steady extension of the war and the interdependence of all the 
scattered fronts made such an organ indispensable. The first 
steps towards the establishment of Allied War Co-ordination 
were taken in France when the Government appointed Joffre 
from the command of the French armies of the North and the 
East to the command of all French armies, whether operating 
on the Western or on the Eastern theatre of war. But national 
and personal amour propre stood in the way of progress, and 
it was again events which shaped policy and not policy which 
shaped events. The sudden crisis at Salonika brought Allied 
military leaders into an elastic organisation which however 
was far from meeting the real need of a supreme inter- Allied 
General Staff. This question nevertheless made real if slow 
progress in the first half of 1916. Not only were meetings for 
the consideration of Allied military and political problems of 
greater frequency, but the desire for co-ordination was also 
shown in the economic field. 

The first properly-organised Allied Conference was held in 
Paris on March 27, 1916. It was attended by Mr. Asquith, 
Mr. Lloyd George, Sir Edward Grey, Lord Kitchener and Lord 
Bertie on behalf of Great Britain. M. Briand and the French 
military and naval leaders represented France. Italy, Russia, 
Japan, Serbia and Portugal were also represented at the 
deliberations, which covered every phase of the war but which 


had, as a matter of historical fact, but a slight influence upon 
the shaping of events. 

M. Briand throughout his ministry had to juggle with all 
his dexterity with these two great questions of Allied co-ordina- 
tion and parliamentary control over the armies. No sooner 
had some satisfaction been given to popular pressure on the 
one point than he had to face political clamour on the second. 
Naturally the more critical the position at the front appeared, 
the more vociferous did Parliament become in its desire for 

The battle of Verdun stilled all in France save the voice 
of the politicians. That storm burst on February 23, 1916. 
It filled the world with its thunder until the battle of the 
Somme. Throughout that period the position of the French 
Ministry grew steadily less secure. General Gallie'ni, the 
gallant and impetuous Minister of War, resigned office on 
March 16, partly owing to ill-health but mainly on account of 
the stubborn refusal of General Headquarters to accept either 
reform or control. In the white heat of Verdun the demand 
for a discussion which should range from details regarding 
effectives to the responsibilities of general officers commanding 
in the field became so great that M. Briand capitulated and 
agreed to a secret sitting of the Chamber of Deputies. Although 
elaborate precautions were taken to ensure exclusion of the 
public from the proceedings, there was no method by which 
the chatter of the Deputies themselves could be checked, and as 
one cynical but truthful wit remarked, when the Secret Sitting 
was agreed to, " At last the Government is going to take the 
whole country into its confidence." 

It was quite clear that no Parliament, however dissatisfied 
it might have been with the eloquent evasions of M. Briand, 
could have assumed the responsibility of adding a political 
crisis to the agony of Verdun. The Government obtained in a 
vote of confidence a large majority, which however each 
successive onslaught reduced. Neither the military successes 
of Verdun and the Somme nor the diplomatic vindication of 
M. Briand' s Salonika policy represented by the entry into the 
war alongside the Allies of Romania did more than mark a 
check in the rapid crumbling of the Ministry's prestige. By 
December remodelling of the Cabinet became necessary, and 
with it changes in the Higher Command of the army. Then 
the difficulties with Greece and the disappointment attendant 
upon Romanian intervention bore their full fruit, and added 
to them came a fuller realisation of the terrible cost of victory 


at Verdun and on the Somme. In prolonged secret sittings 
Parliament had been placed in possession of facts and figures, 
and when M. Br land's new combination faced the Chamber it 
was clear that any vote of confidence would be extremely 
limited in its credit. The House refused to be stirred into 
enthusiasm by the appointment of General Lyautey as Minister 
of War, or by the inclusion of a number of extra-Parliamentary 
business men of ability in the Cabinet. 

General Nivelle succeeded Joffre, who was appointed Marshal 
of France, in the command of the armies in France. This 
general reshuffle in no way weakened opposition to M. Briand, 
and when General Lyautey resigned, after an open quarrel 
with Parliament over the old question of Parliamentary control 
in the field, Briand found it impossible to patch up his Ministry 
again. He resigned on March 17, 1917, and was succeeded by 
his Minister of Finance, M. Ribot, who made but one alteration 
of importance in the Cabinet, in asking an advanced Radical, 
M. Painlev, to accept the all-important post of Ministry of 
War. M. Painleve was a mathematician of considerable repu- 
tation, and a politician of some vanity. He was known to 
have his own views about war, and to disapprove very thor- 
oughly of the spring plan of campaign prepared by the 
Commander-in-Chief General Nivelle. This distrust soon 
showed itself in the appointment of General Petain as Chief 
of the General Staff on April 30, when the April offensive 
had failed, and subsequently on May 15 as successor to General 
Nivelle, with Foch as Chief of Staff at the War Office entrusted 
with very wide powers. 

In many ways the spring and summer of 1917 were the most 
critical periods in the history of France throughout the war. 
The country was very weary. It had suffered so terribly at 
Verdun and the Somme that even the first arrival of American 
troops amounted to nothing more than a temporary tonic. 
Economic problems had been bungled. Living was excessively 
dear. There was great industrial discontent. The Socialist 
element in the country had been profoundly shaken by the 
Russian Revolution and by the proposed International 
Meeting of Socialists at Stockholm. Both German and 
American peace offensives had aroused false hopes of peace. 
German propaganda had become intensified and, as was shown 
in a widespread mutiny among French troops during and after 
the April offensive, had found fertile soil even at the front. 

There was moreover a party of malcontents, with M. Cail- 
laux as their chief, who were prepared to find any way out 


of the war, who openly declared that France had suffered too 
much, and that a " white peace," i.e. a peace without victory, 
was the best she could hope for. It was obvious that vast 
sums were being spent in the French press for German propa- 
ganda, but the high position of many of those implicated 
protected them for a time, and it was only in July that the 
attacks upon the Ministry were delivered frontally in the Senate 
by M. Clemenceau. No history of France during the war 
would be complete without a full account of the intrigues 
which centred upon M. Caillaux and M. Malvy, the latter of 
whom, as Minister of the Interior, represented the extreme 
Radicals in the Cabinet from the outbreak of war until he was 
driven from office by Clemenceau. It was in the struggle 
against them that Clemenceau earned the gratitude and trust 
of France, and gathered the strength which was later to 
impose him as a kind of Parliamentary Dictator upon the 

Clemenceau' s first assault brought about the fall of the 
Ribot Ministry. The old gang however neither died nor 
surrendered. M. Painleve, an ineffective leader and Parliamen- 
tarian, succeeded to M. Ribot and the sea of internal trouble 
rising round him. M. Painleve formed his Cabinet on 
September 12. By November 13 the Chamber, alarmed by 
the growing clamour of the country that the traitors should 
be swept away, and dismayed by Painleve' s failure to display 
any qualities save those of timidity and irresolution, turned 
out the Ministry and thus opened the window through which 
the north wind of Clemenceau' s uncompromising will swept 


In reviewing the political history of France during the years 
of the war there are practically only two ministries which call 
for anything like detailed treatment. Briand's term of office 
was notable for its length and for the fact that during it the 
first steps towards Allied unity were taken. The Ribot Ministry 
which succeeded that of Briand was formed on March 20, 1917. 
It was formed in circumstances of great political difficulty, and 
fell in September of the same year, when the grave public 
uneasiness with regard to feebleness of government leading both 
in military matters and in dealing with enemy propaganda in 
France had become too strong to be ignored. Painleve, who 
succeeded Ribot at the head of affairs, represented the last 


hope of the Caillautists and Malvyists in the defence of their 
positions against the ferocious attacks of the old Jacobin 
Clemenceau and the Royalist spy-hunter L6on Daudet. Pain- 
leve* was able to keep up the pretence of being Prime Minister 
of France until the middle of November, when an adverse vote 
in the Chamber mercifully put an end to a ministry which at 
the best had led a twilight-sleep existence. 

By this time the Bonnet Rouge scandals had grown ripe. 
Almereyda, the editor of that defeatist organ, had committed 
suicide in prison ; Malvy was accused ; Bolo, the German 
agent in the purchase of the Journal, was in the hands of the 
examining magistrate. The country was profoundly disturbed 
by the activities of preachers of discontent, and by the fact 
that the five ministries in France since 1914 had, throughout 
their existence, talked of the necessity of vigorous war-leading 
and of unified command, without producing any results. 

The atmosphere of the Union SacrSe had completely vanished, 
and the old party feuds had become as fierce as ever. Parlia- 
ment made a deplorable impression upon a country at no 
time very respectful of its majesty. In fact the time had 
come, either for the acceptance of defeat, or for a Man. Clemen- 
ceau, who was destined to be that Man, in an article published 
at the beginning of the ministerial crisis, under the heading of 
44 Wanted, a Governor," indicated the requirements of the 
hour. He saw in the feebleness of the Government in dealing 
with treason the chief reason for its fall, and without going 
so far as to accuse ministers of a desire to let the guilty escape, 
he declared that it was abundantly clear that the hands of 
Justice had been fettered. " The time has come," he wrote, 
44 for the Government to come into the open. That is the 
first condition of the Republican regime. Our stoical people 
has passed without faltering through the severest trials in a 
history filled with bad days. It is ready still to endure, for 
it means to achieve victory. But it is no longer willing to be 
stuffed up with all sorts of trashy versions of the truth, the 
object of which is to make the people believe in the infallibility 
of leaders who have only led them from one quagmire to 
another. Frankness and openness are the two primary con- 
ditions of republican government in France." 

Caillaux and his supporters, having failed to prevent 
Clemenceau' s arrival at the head of affairs, did their utmost 
to frighten the country with the bogey of the Republic being 
in danger, Clemenceau in his early days having been for a time 
a supporter of Boulanger, and the Royalist Leon Daudet being 


associated with him in the exposure of the treason scandals. 
The country was asked by Caillaux and his pacifist friends to 
believe that a coup d'etat was in preparation. One appeal 
issued sufficiently indicates the passionate nature of French 
politics at this period. It ran : " Arise, Republicans who 
remain in the rear I Raise, for the sake of the Republic, the 
flag of which is drenched with the blood of your sons and 
brothers I Can we tolerate that the partisans of a past which 
refuses to disarm the Royalists and the Boulangists shall 
belittle the Republic and rule France ? " 

All this political flummery made no impression whatsoever 
on the country. Clemenceau was carried into power on a 
tremendous wave of popular determination to drop politics and 
to win the war, and of faith in the hard-hitting capacities of the 
greatest figure in French politics. Parliamentarians had no 
reason to love Clemenceau. With his cruel cynicism he had 
created more political enemies for himself than any other man 
in the country. Politicians knew that he would be a hard 
task-master, but they had to bow before the evident deter- 
mination of the country to have Clemenceau at whatever cost. 
Characteristically he formed a Ministry mainly with men who 
were but little known to the public, some of whom were not 
even parliamentarians. The Victory Cabinet was : 

MM. CLEMENCEAU . Prime Minister and Minister of 


NAIL . . . Justice. 

PICHON . . Foreign Affairs. 

PAMS . . . Interior. 

KLOOTZ . . Finance. 


CLEMENTEL . . Commerce. 

CLAVEILLE . . Public Works. 

LOUCHEUR . . Munitions. 

LAFFERRE . . Public Instruction. 

SIMON . . . Colonies. 

COLLIARD . . Labour. 

JONNART . . Blockade. 

BORET . . Supplies and Agriculture. 

Clemenceau went before the Chamber with this Ministry on 
November 20, 1917, and read a vigorous declaration of minis- 
terial policy, prefacing his remarks with the following words : 
4 Gentlemen ! we have assumed the taskjof government in 


order to prosecute the war with redoubled effort so as to obtain 
a better yield from all our energies. We come before you with 
but one thought war, nothing but war. We would like the 
confidence we ask you to give us to be an act of conscience 
towards yourselves, an appeal to the historic virtues which 
have made us French." He appealed to the nation for unity 
in all its branches, for sympathy with the poilu and the sacrifices 
he was making, for support of the hard-worked toilers in 
industry and especially in agriculture ; and finished up by 
denouncing the enemies of the country behind the lines and 
assuring his hearers that they should have but short shrift. 
' War ! nothing but war 1 " he concluded ; " our country 
shall not be caught between two fires ! our country shall know 
that it is defended." 

C16menceau lost no time in carrying out his promise to put 
a speedy end to the campaign in the interior of France which 
for over a year had been sapping the nation's trust in itself 
and its faith in victory. His intervention as a private senator 
had already led, before he became Prime Minister, to the 
arrest of some of the lesser suspects. By the end of 1917 the 
Chamber had authorised the prosecution of M. Caillaux ; the 
trial of M. Malvy began on January 21 following, and a fort- 
night later Bolo appeared before the over-worked court-martial 
of Paris. The case of Caillaux was by far the most important 
of this batch of treason-trials, for although it led to the imposition 
of but an insignificant punishment, the verdict of guilty given 
against him was hi effect a condemnation of a whole school 
of political thought and was destined to destroy in the subse- 
quent general elections all the old ascendency of extreme 
French Radicalism. It was however only in the course of 
the investigations into the Bolo-Humbert case that the 
authorities were able to discover sufficient proof to justify 
direct action against Caillaux. 

Amongst the numerous victims of C16menceau was Senator 
Charles Humbert, who was charged with having bought an 
important Paris newspaper, Le Journal, with money supplied 
by Bolo from sources the enemy nature of which was known 
to him ; but he was acquitted. As a result however of police 
investigation into these journalistic matters of Le Bonnet Rouge 
and Le Journal more and more people became involved. 

One after the other they were arrested without distinction 
of person. Indeed so fast and furious became this business of 
nipping treason in the bud that a special Under-Secretary of 
Military Justice was appointed to deal with all the treason 


cases. He was a respecter of no person. The purge was 
applied everywhere and with a completeness which showed how 
thoroughly C16menceau had realised the necessity of cutting 
away all the undergrowth of doubt and faint-heartedness which 
had clogged the patriotic if unavailing efforts of his predecessors 
in office to achieve victory. Clemenceau declared in his minis- 
terial statement before the Chambers that he had but one 
idea in his programme. He intended to fight the war, to go 
on making war, and to continue to wage war. Anything or 
anybody which in any way threatened to interfere with the 
carrying out of this single-minded policy had to be, and was, 
swept ruthlessly away. Injustices were no doubt committed. 
That did not matter. Clemenceau brought with him to his 
task some of the feeling of the old revolutionaries of whom he 
was a direct political descendant, i.e. that they were the grim 
and implacable servants of fate, and as such had to do not a 
little wrong if right were to prevail in the long-run. 

Malvy, the once all-powerful Minister, was brought before the 
High Court of the Senate, and before appearing there was given 
an opportunity of appreciating the fate of several of the men 
with whom he had been associated. Bolo, the man who tried 
to buy the Journal with German money, was shot at the 
traitor's stake at Vincennes, and his associates were sentenced 
to long terms of imprisonment. He was the first of many to 
make that sorrowful pilgrimage in the drear hour of dawn. 
Duval of the Bonnet Rouge followed shortly afterwards, and 
his friends either committed suicide in gaol or saw themselves 
condemned to transportation to French Guiana or New Cale- 
donia. Malvy escaped with a term of banishment. Caillaux 
spent two years in gaol and lost his civil rights. The sentences 
in these cases did not really matter very much. What was 
all-important to Clemenceau was that he should have all these 
representatives of "defeatism" under lock and key while he 
made his great bid for victory. 

Not even in the days of the great Emperor did France know 
a rule so despotic as that exercised by Clemenceau ; and never 
was power more clearly based upon the general approval of 
the country. The army in France at all times has represented 
the country, and this was never more true than at this period 
of the war, when every available man had been swept into its 
ranks. With the soldier there was no figure so popular as that 
of the " Tiger " on his visits to the front, clad in knickerbockers 
and gaiters and wearing an almost impossibly disreputable felt 
hat. Clemenceau announced when he took office that he 


intended to live with the poilu and to make the rest of France 
behind the lines live and suffer with the men in the trenches. 
The secret of his power was to be found in the army. He soon 
showed that he realised this, and the first few months of his 
term of office were marked by his more or less constant presence 
in the war-zone. Trusting absolutely the robust patriotism of 
the soldier he did not hesitate to strike hard at any labour 
manifestation which appeared in any way to jeopardise the 
security of the army in its rear. 

He had a short way with strikes and strikers. The political 
sections of labour had no love for C16menceau. As Minister 
of the Interior in a peace-time Cabinet he had dealt hardly with 
labour. Strikers had been ridden down by cavalry at Villeneuve 
St. Georges ; blood had been spilled at Draveil. Personal 
recollections combined with political animus to make him 
unpopular to the Socialists who politically were wedded to the 
fortunes of the Radical Socialists, whose two leaders, Caillaux 
and Malvy, Clemenceau was bent upon destroying. There were 
strikes and labour demonstrations. They were repressed by the 
police and by the troops with a firmness and a brutality which 
the higher ends alone could justify. The police were given 
instructions to hit a head whenever they saw one, and they 
obeyed their orders with all the gusto that comes to a man 
when he is allowed to hit back at an opponent. 

We have described above, in a few words, the result of the 
" Treason Trials " ; but in view of their importance and the 
interest which they aroused it will be advisable to give a few 
details regarding the deeds of the chief culprits. 

The arrest of M. Caillaux marked the beginning of the last 
phase of the struggle between two policies which had been in 
presence throughout the war ; on the one hand the desire to 
bring the war to a victorious conclusion, on the other the 
temporising policy which sought to negotiate with the enemy 
and bring about a peace of rapprochement. Since the Morocco 
incidents in 1911, when M. Caillaux, the Prime Minister, had 
shown his desire to effect a reconciliation with Germany at the 
expense of the Entente Cordiale, M. Clemenceau had been his 
bitter political enemy. Caillaux emerged from the storms of 
Agadir more than ever committed to the policy of Franco- 
German rapprochement, towards which both his habits and his 
interests as a financier naturally inclined him. 

At the beginning of the war Caillaux was given a semi- 
military post in the Army Pay Department ; but he was soon 
sent by the Government to South America and elsewhere on a 


financial mission. On his return he took little part in parlia- 
mentary debates ; but his propagandist activity in the Press 
in the direction of conciliation, and his doings and conversation 
abroad, aroused vague suspicions at home. As long however 
as his friend Malvy was in charge of the Ministry of the Interior, 
nothing could be done. 

Caillaux believed that his policy was near its triumph in 
1917 after the failure of the Nivelle offensive. The moral of the 
country certainly touched its lowest point at that period. 
" Defeatism " was rampant behind the lines, where nothing 
was done to put a check on the many journalistic and political 
sowers of pessimism ; mutinies broke out in no less than 
sixteen different army corps in the front zone. This disaffection 
was put down by General Petain with a strong hand, and 
confidence was gradually restored ; but much mischief had 
been done. Papers subsequently found in Caillaux' possession 
showed that had he returned to power he contemplated 
entrusting the chief command to his political sympathiser, 
General Sarrail, and setting up a dictatorship for himself in the 

On January 14, 1918 Caillaux was arrested in Paris. The 
preparations for his trial were intentionally spun out, and it 
was not until the spring of 1920 that he was sentenced to two 
years' imprisonment a sentence he had already served whilst 
awaiting trial. 

Of the lower-class adventurers who were drawn into the 
wide-flung net of military justice, Bolo " Pasha " was perhaps 
the most striking. A Marseillais of low birth, he commenced 
his career in his native town by ruining the partners in the 
small business with which he was associated, and running off 
to Spain with the wife of one of them. Both here and in 
South America he got into trouble with the police ; but after 
ruining his first wife financially, he married, at Lyons, a second 
one, who was possessed of a considerable fortune, and proceeded 
to " cut a dash " in the shadiest of French society, with 
disastrous results to the fortune. It was at this moment that, 
through the ex-Khedive of Egypt, who in Switzerland was 
acting as one of the chief German agents, Bolo got into touch 
with the enemy secret service, from whom he received nearly 
400,000. Of this sum over one-half was used by Bolo in 
purchasing shares in M. Humbert's newspaper, Le Journal, 
Humbert having suspected that his partners, Lenoir and 
Desouches, were acting in enemy interests, and being anxious 
to free himself from their control. Further sums were also 


invested in other newspapers, and an attempt was made (but 
in vain) to purchase a controlling interest in certain high-class 

The trial ended on February 14, 1918, in a verdict of death 
upon Bolo and of three years' imprisonment upon his tool 
Porchere. He was executed on April 17 following. 

A fortnight later the Bonnet Rouge trial began. Seven 
persons were in the dock, including the editor, Duval, and 
Leymarie, the secretary of M. Malvy ; they were charged with 
complicity in commerce with the enemy. Overwhelming 
evidence to this effect was produced, it being proved that Duval 
had received about 40,000 from the German agent and banker 
Marx, with whom he had several times confabulated in Switzer- 
land. Duval was condemned to death, and followed Bolo to 
Vincennes ; the others received sentences varying from two to 
ten years. 

Duval' s execution was followed at once by the opening of 
public proceedings against M. Malvy, who, from the outbreak of 
the war until the summer of 1917, had filled the extremely 
important post of Minister of the Interior. The charges made 
against Malvy were numerous, but stripped of their legal 
verbiage they amounted to an accusation that by guilty 
negligence in the discharge of his office he had favoured the 
cause of the enemy by weakening the control of the activity 
of enemy agents in France and thus encouraging the incitement 
of mutiny among the French troops. The state of affairs at 
his Ministry had been almost incredible. This showed itself 
chiefly in connection with the actions of the police and in the 
antagonism between the military and the civil police services. 
Largely owing to M. Malvy' s association with M. Caillaux and 
his somewhat doubtful friends the former had taken the line 
of protecting certain suspicious characters against the activities 
of the military police : even Almereyda, Duval and Goldsky, 
of Bonnet Rouge fame, became proteges of the Ministry of the 
Interior for the tune being. The results were disastrous. By 
the end of 1916 a formidable defeatist press was everywhere 
at work, preaching discontent and destroying moral. The army 
leaders, who had their own police in the field, became increasingly 
urgent in their representations to the Government that some- 
thing must be done to put an end to this deliberate undermining 
of the soldier's confidence in himself and his leaders. The first 
big fruits of this state of affairs showed themselves in the 
mutinies of 1917 already referred to above. 

In the end Malvy was found guilty of having done nothing 
F 15 


to combat the plan which existed (and of which he was aware) 
to destroy the moral fortitude of the country and the discipline 
of the army ; the judgement further proclaimed that he had 
been too friendly with the Bonnet Rouge gang and that he had 
interfered with the police watch upon Caillaux' visitors ; and 
finally, that he had betrayed his position as Minister. The 
Court condemned him to five years' exile ; and Malvy left 
France for Spain, protesting his innocence. 

The rapidity and determination with which Clemenceau 
dealt with these many traitors and defeatists was not the only 
tonic he administered to the war-worn country. Scorning to 
imitate his predecessors by dosing public opinion with the 
soothing syrup of optimistic platitude, he painted the situation 
in the sombre colours of truth. Russia had dissolved into 
anarchy. American effort had not had time to make itself 
felt upon the battlefield. The economic state of the country 
was bad. Labour and Socialism had been profoundly stirred 
by the Russian Revolution and International Pacifist propa- 
ganda. The army called ever for more men. 

Such was the effect of Clemenceau' s personality and of his 
will to win the war that he obtained amid applause fresh 
sacrifices from every class of the community. While his weak 
predecessor M. Painleve had felt himself forced to release men 
from the colours by the pressure of opinion, Clemenceau not 
only called them back to the army but mobilised further men, 
and instituted a fresh and drastic comb-out in all Government 
offices and in private and State factories and workshops. 

Steps were also taken, but without complete success, to 
enforce a rigorous rationing system. The history of civilian 
France in this respect was not above reproach. Families who 
supported stoically the loss of father or son refused to recognise 
the urgent necessity of food economy, and the average town- 
dwelling Frenchman, and especially the Parisian, displayed 
immense resources of tact and ingenuity in circumventing the 
various edicts of the Food Controller with regard to meatless 
days and other restrictions. In the face of this determination 
on the part of the country not to observe alimentary discipline, 
the lot of the successive Food Controllers was not a happy one. 
No definite plan or policy of control or restriction was followed 
for more than a few weeks at a time. Many of the regulations 
were never put into force ; contradictory edicts followed one 
after the other with a bewildering variety which made respect 
of them almost an impossibility. 

The first few months of 1918 were particularly trying to the 



civilian population. For, added to growing difficulties with 
regard to food and coal, events at the front were unhappy and 
full of menace to the capital. Paris received her first shell 
from Big Bertha, from a distance of seventy- two miles, on 
March 23 ; and with the beginning of the big guns' activity 
air-raids were intensified. * Indeed there were not a few Parisians 
who felt acutely that Clemenceau was perhaps pushing too far 
his policy of making the civilian realise the real meaning of 
war. Nevertheless the general moral of the country and 
much-tried temper and nerves of the capital remained staunch, 
and those Socialist elements who with a weak Government 
might have yielded to the temptation to cause disturbances, 
found no such encouragement under the iron rule of " The Tiger." 
On the whole however it is no exaggeration to state that 
from the time that the German offensive first burst upon the 
Allied front in March 1918 until the triumphant counter- 
offensives of the summer brought victory in sight France had 
no internal history or preoccupations save those provided by 
the treason trials. 

1 Bombardment of Paris : 




Aerial projectiles 
Bertha shells . 

. 746 
. 303 




. 1,049 





THE Malvy trial came to an end while the last great struggle 
was being fought out in the field. Behind the lines the country 
nursed in silence the growing hope of victory as the armies of 
liberation pressed on to the Rhine. It was not until the terms 
of armistice had actually been signed that the people felt 
themselves at last free to give voice to their pent-up happiness. 

The terms were well received in Parliament, where Clemenceau 
received the first of the many ovations which were to reach 
their culminating point on the Terrace at Versailles after the 
signature of the Treaty of Peace ; and the closing days of 
November were filled with the triumphal return of the victorious 
French troops to the cities of Alsace and Lorraine, whilst on 
November 21 the French Academy paid the tribute of the 
intellectual world to Marshal Foch and Clemenceau by electing 
them as members. 

A week later King George made a brief official visit to Paris. 
He was followed by King Albert ; but it was not until well on 
in the month of December that any serious progress could be 
made in the preparations of the Allied Peace Conference which 
was to draft terms of the peace to be presented to Germany. 

It is not within the scope of this work to examine, or describe 
as a whole or in detail, the vast mechanism of peace created by 
the world's representatives in Paris, the nature of the problems 
as they affected every State represented, or to probe into the 
histories and characters of the delegates and the policies they 
represented. But any history of France would be incomplete 
indeed did it omit a full statement of the reparations and the 
guarantees France sought at the hands of the Paris Peace 
Conference, or fail to describe the men who were the instruments 
of her policy, and in what spirit they approached their task 
and met their fellow delegates at the green table. 


PEACE 229 

France suffered more during the war than any other Allied 
country, and the arguments timidly put forward that the 
Conference should meet in any other capital than that of 
France, or the final treaty be signed anywhere save at Versailles, 
were easily dismissed. The existence of the English Channel 
made London impossible as a meeting-place. Brussels was too 
small, Rome too distant. Paris was easy of access for the 
delegates of all the Allied countries. Her hotels and palaces 
were capable of absorbing the huge peace army which was to 
be mobilised. She was the centre of the European system of 
communication. There were practical as well as sentimental 
reasons which made her selection imperative ; for in her walls, 
or at Versailles, already existed the Inter-Allied military 
mechanism which was bound to play such an important part in 
the discussions. 

One big hotel after another was requisitioned for the housing 
of the delegates and their staffs. There were not only the 
representatives of twenty-seven Allied nations to be accom- 
modated. From every part of the earth there came men with 
axes to be ground or with injustices to be redressed by the 
Conference, and the Champs Elysees and the Boulevards became 
thronged with people of strange races, speaking little-known 
tongues, wearing outlandish garments. Ethnical experts them- 
selves became bewildered when they heard of the Wends and 
the Sudetians sending their delegates. Zionists, Bolsheviks, 
Koreans, Armenians, Tatars, Georgians, Persians, all had their 
headquarters. There were Irish Republicans and Egyptian 
Nationalists. Men from every part of the British Empire, 
Syrians, Maronites, Arabs, strange sages from the East, all 
found their way to the Mecca of Peace, hoping to be heard by 
the Conference or to be able in some way or other to influence 
its decisions. The Press by itself sent some hundreds of 
correspondents, and for them too a Palace was requisitioned 
in which they could hold their meetings and bear their part in 
the general insanity of the period. 

The Congress of Vienna was marked by the brilliance of its 
social gaieties. In Paris private entertaining was noticeably 
absent. There was hardly a big family which was not in 
mourning, and none of the big hostesses opened their doors to 
peace junketing. Neither health nor inclination led M. Cle*- 
menceau or his Foreign Minister to entertain. The Elys6e 
kept purposely aloof from the Conference, and the French felt 
that in view of the undoubted hardships of life in Paris for the 
working-classes at that moment a display of official jollity 

230 PEACE 

would be out of place. Life among most of the foreigners 
was insensate in its luxury. Clemenceau did not encourage 
any French participation in this general folly. He continued 
his austere mode of life in the back courtyard of his unpre- 
tentious dwelling at Passy. M. Pichon remained on as before 
in his modest flat near the Luxembourg, and seldom took part 
in any of the countless public dinners of the time. 

Such was the moral atmosphere in which the Peace Confer- 
ence met. Politically, from a French point of view, what was 
the situation ? Who were the delegates of France, and what 
was their attitude towards the World Peace they were called 
upon to make ? 

The French, a strange mixture of Rhetoric and Idealism, 
had given to President Wilson's fourteen points their adher- 
ence. When Wilson arrived in France on the eve of the 
Conference he was hailed as the bearer of a new idea. He and 
his country were the saviours of Europe. He was the preacher 
of a new Gospel. The League of Nations was the one certain 
way of preventing future wars. Paris gave him a welcome 
equalled only in fervour by that given to the Russians when 
the Franco-Russian Alliance was concluded. It was Wilson, 
Wilson, everywhere. Much of this popular sentiment was 
sincere ; much of it was due to the influence of the Press, 
which had its instructions from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs 
to put down the loud pedal. In the public gaze nothing he 
could say or do was, or could be, wrong. Yet together with 
the Rhetoric and Idealism the French manage to combine the 
saving, critical qualities which come from Logic and Realism. 
Not a few of those who were foremost in print or on the plat- 
form in belauding the League of Nations to the sky were, in 
private, more than sceptical about its benefits, and feared 
that in the hands of the idealists who were spreading gospels 
it might become a source not of strength but of weakness, 
and, in later years, even an instrument subversive of French 
interests. There were many who could not see why the world, 
having failed for nearly two thousand years to accept the 
teachings of Christ's Sermon on the Mount, should be prepared 
to bow before the revised version produced in America by 
President Wilson for European consumption. 

These critics of the League of Nations more solidly repre- 
sented the real, considered judgements of the French and the 
needs of the hour than did the emotional crowds which greeted 
the President on his first visit to France. What was the poli- 
tical outlook ? France was victorious, but she had paid dearly 

PEACE 231 

for her victory. Germany, beaten but not crushed, still was 
a force to be reckoned with in the future. Napoleonic experi- 
ments in the disarmament of Germany had been a failure. 
The French had their own experience after 1870 to remind 
them how quickly a defeated nation can recover her economic 
power. The conduct of the war by the Germans had not been 
of a nature to reassure the French as to the sincerity of their 
rapid conversion to democracy and all it means. There was 
the threat of a Teutonic-Slav combination in the future. Against 
all these menaces the French had to seek safeguards, and they 
preferred to find them in military and economic facts rather 
than in the vague and shadowy paper promises of a " League 
of Nations Utopia." A people which for nearly fifty years had 
lived under the shadow of defeat next door to its arrogant 
conqueror had some excuse for adopting this attitude. No 
other people in Europe had suffered from so many opportunities 
of getting to know German mentality and its manifestations. 
If they went no further back than the war which had just 
ended, they found their cities ruined, their departments devas- 
tated, their factories gutted, their fields destroyed and their 
compatriots enslaved and maltreated in every zone of the terri- 
tory occupied by the Germans. But not only in war had the 
Germans governed by force and by intimidation. In the 
twilight between war and peace which prevailed in Alsace- 
Lorraine throughout the forty-seven years of German occupa- 
tion the same brutal methods were employed. Throughout 
the whole course of the troubled history of the Franco-German 
diplomatic struggle over Morocco Germany had employed the 
tactics of the bully, and only gave way when she found herself 
threatened with the united strength of France and Britain. 
How, many Frenchmen asked themselves, could the League of 
Nations provide security for France against such a mentality 
in a neighbour still strong in population, resources and science ? 
Foremost among the critics of the League was Clemenceau. 
He, like many another public man, felt himself forced by 
expediency to do it lip-service from time to time, but he was 
too honest intellectually to conceal his scepticism from under- 
standing eyes. He saw no objection to the League if Wilson, 
Lord Robert Cecil and Leon Bourgeois wanted it. Let them 
have it. But the promises of the League could not be allowed 
to replace the tangible guarantees of French national safety 
which he considered it necessary to obtain hi the Treaty. For 
he, like the bulk of his countrymen, was sure in his heart and 
mind that the German had never bowed, and would never 

232 PEACE 

bow, to any god but strength. He had, besides, the conviction 
that the German was by birth dishonest, that the plighted or 
the written word meant naught to him once he felt himself 
strong enough to deny it. Clemenceau was not only a cynic 
but he was also a cold and brutal realist. No means could be 
neglected if the end were to be reached. No honour, no principle, 
no man was sacred to him if it stood in the path to his goal. 
He had no faith. All these destructive and negative qualities 
were however redeemed by his intense love of country, by 
his glowing wish to leave France greater, stronger and freer 
than she had been. France was his religion. He made of 
his country his faith. There have been great Europeans. 
Clemenceau was not among them. He was a great Frenchman, 
and throughout the Peace Conference French interests alone 
could arouse him. 

The chief of those interests was security. The French viewed 
the problem of their internal safety from a point of view which 
could completely ignore any peril from the West. America 
was in no way to be feared. All the possible perils of France 
lay on her eastern frontier. There she had to consider the 
situation very carefully. Right upon her doorstep she had 
the German whom, with just cause, she deemed to be defeated 
but not crushed, sorry but not repentant. 

The French had learned in their own history what reliance 
could be placed upon treaty provisions in dealing with Germany 
when those provisions were not supported by the weight of 
arms. They knew that the process of disarmament would be 
not only slow but also imperfect. They realised that whatever 
might be done in the Treaty to reduce the number of trained 
troops in Germany no treaty provisions could, in the long-run, 
prevent the establishment of some camouflaged system of 
military training through Boy Scouts, Military Veterans or 
Security Police Organisations. They therefore sought from the 
Paris Peace Conference the utmost possible measure of security 
for their frontiers : and their military heroes were clamorous 
upon this point. 

One way of ensuring the safety of French frontiers in the 
East was obviously to insist upon a prolonged and extensive 
occupation of the Rhenish provinces of Germany. Such a 
method would have deprived Germany of the spring-board 
from which she has throughout history launched her invading 
armies into France. The civilisation of peace alone could not 
explain or justify the inordinate spread of German railways 
towards the Rhine bridges in peace time. Still less could it 

PEACE 238 

excuse the tremendous development of railway lines, store- 
houses and barracks on the left bank of the river. The posses- 
sion of the Rhine bridges and of the jumping-off ground on 
the left bank alone could have led Germany to feel that she 
was sure of triumph when she launched her legions upon France. 
French possession, or neutralisation, of those regions was 
therefore the first aim of the French delegates at the Peace 
Conference ; and by the end of April the Supreme Council had 
so far met French views that the military frontiers of Germany 
were set back 50 kilometres east of the Rhine, and her army 
was reduced to 100,000 men. 

Inter- Allied occupation of the left bank of the Rhine and of 
the bridgeheads was accepted for a period of fifteen years, and 
treaties were signed whereby, in the event of United States 
ratification, both America and Great Britain bound themselves 
to come immediately to the assistance of France should she 
again be the object of the aggressor. But American failure to 
ratify the Peace Treaty relieved Great Britain of her con- 
tingent undertaking, and France, deprived of her chief military 
guarantee against Germany, sought a substitute in military 
alliance with Belgium and in the vigorous execution of all the 
disarmament clauses. 

The military requirements of France in the Peace Treaty 
were clear, and were obtainable by clear-cut methods. Eco- 
nomically the situation was much more complex. 

Notwithstanding the advance of French industry, agriculture 
still absorbs about 60 per cent, of the country's economic 
effort. The effect of war upon it was calamitous, and spread 
far beyond the zone of war into every village, hamlet and 
farm. Mobilisation affected agriculture just as heavily as it 
did industry in the first two months of the war, but the para- 
mount importance of arming the armies led to the return of 
considerable numbers of artisans and skilled workmen to the 
factory, while it was not until very much later that efforts on 
a much smaller scale were made to give the farmer some of his 
much-needed labour. Farm-work was crippled also by the 
requisition of most of the horses and cattle. Manures were 
lacking, and artificial manures were almost unobtainable. The 
effect of this upon the acreage under cultivation and upon live- 
stock was immediate. 1 

It is also calculated that the war-zone had an area of 4,844,000 
hectares, of which about 3,500,000 were the best-farmed land 
in France, supporting the large agricultural industries of sugar, 

1 Vide pp. 266 etc. for details. 

234 PEACE 

distilling and brewing. The French estimate of the agricultural 
reparations value of the damage done here by war is 
800,000,000. The actual fighting-zone of intensive destruction 
covered about one and a quarter million hectares, of which 
over one-tenth was completely devastated, with nothing but a 
few shattered tree trunks and an occasional cluster of powdered 
ruins left of all the labour given to the soil. 

The area ruined in lesser degree within the bombardment 
zone and land in close proximity to the front, or in German 
occupation which suffered from bad methods of cultivation, 
and the damage attendant upon the presence of large armies, 
brought the total agricultural area ruined up to 2,800,000 
hectares. In all the region in occupation of the Germans agri- 
cultural machinery and tools had been removed ; dykes, roads 
and boundary limits were destroyed. Industrial production 
suffered in the same way from the effects of shell-fire, both 
Allied and enemy, and by the systematic stripping by the Ger- 
mans of all metal in the great factories of the North. Almost 
all the great coal-mines of the North were rendered sterile for 
many years to come. The wealthy textile industries of Lille 
and Roubaix were brought to a standstill. Moreover the whole 
arterial system of the North and East of France was terribly 
damaged. Thousands of kilometres of railways and canals 
were destroyed, and many hundred bridges and viaducts had 
been blown up. The number of houses destroyed too had 
run into several hundreds of thousands. 

At the outbreak of war the charge of the National Debt per 
head of the population was 861 francs. By the time peace was 
signed it had risen to 4,487 francs. 

Another economic factor of vast importance which had to 
be borne in mind by the French peace-maker was coal. France 
in 1913 had to import 20,000,000 tons of coal. After, and 
during, the war these heavy requirements of her industry were 
swollen by the stoppage of supplies from the war-crippled 
fields of the North, and by the restoration of Alsace-Lorraine, 
which itself was some 7,000,000 tons short of its necessities. 

These coal requirements had to be met by the Treaty of 
Versailles, which laid down that Germany during the first five 
years had to deliver to France 20,000,000 tons of coal annually 
to make good the war losses, and to deliver 8,000,000 tons 
during each of the next five years. Moreover for a period of 
fifteen years the exploitation of the coal-fields of the Saar 
Valley with an annual pre-war output of 18,000,000 tons was 
handed over to France. 

1919-1921 235 

Guarantees against future aggression and reparation of 
damage done were the two chief aims of France in the negotiation 
of the Treaty of Versailles with her allies. Those negotiations 
were long-drawn-out. Before the day of signature public 
attention had wearied of their details. Clemenceau still 
enjoyed the confidence of the country as a whole, and when 
the German delegates entered the Hall of Mirrors on June 28 
to sign the Treaty there was too much relief at the completion 
of the long task of peace-making for criticism to make itself 



IMMEDIATELY after the signature of the Peace Treaty the 
economic and labour discontent due to Bolshevist agitation 
and to the failure of the Clemenceau Ministry to deal with the 
ever-increasing cost of living showed itself in a series of partial 
strikes in which such varied classes as theatrical workers, 
municipal servants, dockers and coal-miners were affected. 
There was however no response to the call for a general strike, 
and the whole attitude of labour was sound. In Parliament 
this justifiable discontent was used as a lever to try and oust 
M. Clemenceau from power before the general elections, but 
without success. 

When the treaty however came before the Chambers 
(September 1919) for ratification, fault-finders were not wanting 
who declared that it was conceived in a spirit of old-world 
harshness, but yet lacked the necessary guarantees for its 
performance ; that Clemenceau had allowed Wilson and 
Lloyd George between them to outmanoeuvre the French 
negotiators ; that the Treaty was unworkable, and that it 
deprived France of all she could justly have expected from 
her victory. 

The elections were of unprecedented importance, for before 
the end of 1919 the Senate, the Chamber of Deputies, Municipal 
and Provincial Councillors had to be renewed, and one of the 
first duties of the new Parliament was to elect a successor to 
M. Poincare in the Presidency of the Republic. The election 
campaign however was devoid of any speculative interest, 
for it was abundantly clear that any party or group of parties 
whose candidates bound themselves to work solidly at the 

236 1919-1921 

real business of France, and would refuse to waste their time 

in political bladder-beating bouts among themselves, would be 

assured of a large majority. M. Clemenceau was quick to 

realise this, and mainly with the help of M. Millerand, then 

High Commissioner of the Republic in Alsace-Lorraine, an 

electoral phalanx was formed under the name of the " bloc 

national." Its programme was defined by Clemenceau in a 

great speech at Strasbourg on November 4, when he appealed 

to all moderate men who desired to work in peace and order 

at the reconstruction of the country to vote against all Bolshevist 

candidates throughout the country. Polling took place ten 

days later, and for the first time the electoral reform law 

instituting the principle of Proportional Representation was 

put into practice. Nearly everywhere the Clemenceau- 

Millerand ticket triumphed, and the discomfiture of the advanced 

Socialists was so complete as to destroy their importance as 

a party in the new House, which, consisting of 626 members, 

comprised no less than 369 men new to Parliament. Their 

neighbours, the Radical Socialists, fared but little better, and 

the Left bloc, which had formed the centre of power with 288 

votes in the old Parliament, found itself reduced to 168 votes. 

The balance of power was shifted away to the moderate 

Centre and the Conservative Right. 

The National Assembly for the Presidential Election was 
held at Versailles on January 17, 1920. M. Clemenceau, who 
had been over-persuaded by his friends to submit his name, 
was defeated in the Republican Caucus ballot which preceded 
the official vote, and M. Paul Deschanel, President of the 
Chamber of Deputies, was elected with practical unanimity. 
On the following day the Clemenceau Ministry, the most famous 
in French history, resigned, and Clemenceau retired (soi-disant) 
definitely from public life. 

M. Millerand was called upon to form the new Cabinet. His 
choice of collaborators showed that he was more concerned 
with having men of practical experience at the head of affairs 
than politicians of brilliance or subtlety. Politically his com- 
bination did not get an enthusiastic welcome from Parliament, 
but the determination with which M. Millerand set himself 
to obtaining, in conference with the Allies of France, the 
application of the feasible terms of the Peace with Germany 
soon won for him the confidence of Parliament. 

In spite however of that determination, the results of the 
successive Allied meetings at Boulogne, Spa and Hythe were 
not deemed satisfactory, and Parliamentary discontent might 

1922 237 

have found direct expression had it not been for two events 
the serious illness of President Deschanel following a fall from 
the presidential train in May, and the brilliant success of 
French policy in giving assistance to the Poles in their struggle 
against the Bolsheviks. The first event rendered ministerial 
stability extremely desirable, and the second made it sure to 
such an extent that when M. Deschanel was forced to resign 
M. Millerand was the only possible successor. He entered upon 
his term as President of the Republic on September 23. 

The Briand Ministry which followed accomplished nothing of 
great importance either at home or abroad. M. Briand, from 
the outset of this term of office, had to struggle with the opposi- 
tion and criticism of Conservative elements in the Chamber 
of Deputies and with the growing influence of M. Poincare 
throughout Parliament. Dissatisfaction with the working of 
the Treaty of Versailles and distrust of British policy were the 
main forces behind M. Poincare. The Pacific Conference at 
Washington (December 1921 to January 1922) weakened M. 
Briand' s position, for it was felt, not without reason, that France 
in that great Conference played but a very minor part, and that 
the only result of her delegation's activities was to widen differ- 
ences between France and Great Britain. 



WHAT Washington had begun Cannes 1 completed. There it 
became abundantly clear that M. Briand with his conciliatory 
tendencies in the treatment of European affairs could do nothing 
against the uncompromising Nationalist majority in the 
Chamber, which viewed all negotiations with Soviet Russia 
with disgusted alarm, and desired to treat Germany with 
Draconian severity in all matters arising from the Treaty of 
Versailles. Scandals brought to light by the failure of the 
Banque Industrielle de Chine, in which M. Briand' s right-hand 
man at the Foreign Office was implicated, had also helped to 
sap M. Briand' s position. While he was at Cannes intrigue 
inside the Paris Cabinet came to a head. M. Briand abruptly 
left the Conference, and after a stormy debate in the Chamber 
resigned office. M. Poincare at once stepped into his place. 

i January 6-12, 1922. 

238 1922 

Among the liabilities he took over from his predecessor were the 
Cannes Resolutions and the Genoa Conference. French policy 
was immediately tightened up, and it became clear that M. 
Poincare was bent upon challenging the ascendency of Mr. 
Lloyd George in European councils. The French Premier 
announced that he did not believe in conferences and would 
return to the old methods of negotiation between Foreign 
Offices. He admitted himself bound to Genoa by Briand's 
signature at Cannes, but did his utmost to prevent the meeting 
of Genoa. When that Conference did assemble * M. Poincare 
remained aloof in Paris and sent M. Barthou as the chief delegate 
of France. Throughout the deliberations French action and 
counsel were obstructive and tended to emphasise Franco- 
British differences. The French at the outset by insisting upon 
the exclusion of disarmament and reparations from the list of 
problems to be discussed had deprived Genoa of the chance of 
achieving more than a moral result. The prospect of German 
default on June 15, 1922 in her reparations payments weighed 
heavily upon Genoa, and the threat made at Bar-le-Duc by M. 
Poincare while Genoa was still sitting that France would, if 
necessary, take separate action in enforcing her claims upon 
Germany, in no way improved matters. 

Moreover, as the year advanced it became clear that M. 
Poincare 's action as office-holder fell very short of his declara- 
tions as opposition critic. He had announced his distrust of 
conferences, but, besides meeting Mr. Lloyd George at Boulogne 
in February, he was soon hurrying to London to attend a 
Conference on the subject of Reparations and a Conference 
which proved resultless. He took in his pocket a scheme for 
compelling Germany to pay, which included the temporary 
seizure of her fiscal mines and State forests as " productive 
pledges." His visit to London, however, rather unfortunately 
followed upon the publication by the British Government of 
the " Balfour Note " (August 1), wherein Lord Balfour, acting 
Foreign Secretary, laid down the principle that only so much 
of the Allies' debts to Britain would be claimed as would 
suffice to enable Britain to discharge her debt to America ; 
but that, inasmuch as our American debt had been incurred 
simply in order to finance Allies whom America had not been 
willing to finance directly herself, it would be unreasonable 
for Britain to pay back America while remitting the sums 
owed to her by Europe. This logical thesis was received with 
disfavour in France, and contributed to sterilise M. Poincare 's 
1 April 10 to May 19, 1922 : chiefly on Russian relations. 

1922 239 

proposals, which linked the Reparation problem with the 
settlement of inter- Allied debts. 

Nor can M. Poincare have been encouraged by the reception 
accorded to his policy when it did assume in act the severity 
which he had advocated in his writings. Clearing houses 
had been set up in Paris and Strasbourg for the recovery of 
German private trading debts ; and on the failure of the 
Strasbourg office to obtain more than 289,000,000 marks out 
of 2 milliards claimed the French Government expelled 
500 German residents from Alsace and Lorraine (August). 
Their expulsion evoked cries of protest from all quarters, not 
least from Alsace-Lorraine, and M. Poincare had to suspend 
his forcible measures. This action had, indeed, run counter 
to a growing realisation in France that great advantage was 
to be derived from admitting German co-operation in restoring 
the devastated areas. 

Meanwhile the Reparation question made little or no progress. 
The sum determined by the Reparation Commission in May 
1921 as due from Germany (6,600,000,000), already deemed 
too low by the majority of Frenchmen, is judged by many 
persons in this country to be considerably larger than Germany 
can possibly pay ; and the plan of occupying the Ruhr district 
in order to enforce payment has been as popular in France as 
it is unpopular in Britain. The year (1922) closes, therefore, 
with a definite and serious divergence between two Allies who 
are both impressed by the need of cordial collaboration. 

Such collaboration, it was believed, might have been pro- 
moted by the conclusion of a Pact between the two countries, 
designed to replace the original Convention of 1919 which 
lapsed owing to America's non-participation (see p. 233). 
Certain proposals were therefore made by Mr. Lloyd George 
to M. Briand at Cannes (January 6-12). M. Briand fell from 
office, and the negotiations were continued by M. Poincare* 
through the ordinary diplomatic channels. He objected to the 
proposed terms on the ground that they were unilateral, putting 
France in the position of appearing to ask the aid which her 
ally did not require of her, that it was offered only for a period 
of ten years, and that there was no military guarantee. Mr. 
Lloyd George, on his part, made his signature dependent on 
the previous elimination of Franco-British differences in 
Tangier and the Near East. His firm refusal to bind Britain 
to specific military intervention was enough in itself to make 
the Pact unacceptable to France, and Britain's offer was refused. 
Events in the Near East exhibited at once the need and 

240 1922 

the difficulties of close Allied co-operation. France, who had 
by the Treaty of Sevres (August 10, 1920) been entrusted 
with the mandates over Syria (including the Lebanon) and 
Cilicia, had throughout shown herself more favourably disposed 
towards Turkey than had Britain, and early advocated a 
revision of the Treaty, which admitted the Greek claim to 
administer Smyrna and the adjacent district of Ionia. In 
this she was supported by Italy, both Powers being driven 
into a more strongly anti- Greek attitude by the return of 
King Constantine to Athens. They afforded some embarrassing 
aid to the Turkish Nationalist leader Mustafa Kemal, who, 
defying alike the Allies and his own Government in Constanti- 
nople, opposed the execution of the Sevres Treaty by force of 
arms, and soon established a " rebel " Government at Angora. 
With him France actually concluded an accord that facilitated 
her withdrawal from Cilicia. Britain, on the contrary, con- 
tinued to lend Greece moral, if not material, support, and in 
the hostilities which continued intermittently through the 
years 1920, 1921, and 1922 Britain was really on one side, and 
France and Italy on the other. An inter- Allied Conference in 
Paris (March 1922) brought outward harmony to the policy 
of the three Powers, who there agreed to the evacuation of 
Anatolia by the Greeks and the restoration even of Eastern 
Thrace to Turkey ; Allied troops were to be left in occupation 
of Gallipoli, but withdrawn from Constantinople. 

What Allied diplomacy decreed Turkish arms effected. A 
sweeping Turkish victory at Afiun Qarahisar (August 26) drove 
the Greek army westward in headlong rout, and Smyrna was 
entered by Turkish cavalry a fortnight later. When in mid- 
September a Turkish force approached the Straits it became a 
momentous international question whether the Allied troops 
who were quartered on either side of them (in accordance with 
the Armistice terms of October 1918) should or should not 
defend them by force if necessity arose. Britain decided that 
she would. Mr. Lloyd George announced her intention to the 
world at once, without previous consultation with France. 
France was discomposed, and withdrew her forces to the 
European side of the Straits. Her example was followed by 
Italy, and an awkward situation arose. Britain despatched 
reinforcements to Sir Charles Harington, commanding Allied 
forces in the Near East. He met Turkish Delegates in a con- 
ference at Mudania which had been arranged by Lord Curzon's 
diplomatic intervention in Paris. At Mudania Allied unity 
was with difficulty maintained, but on October 11 an Armistice 


was signed, wherein the concessions made to Turkey in March, 
now slightly enlarged, were confirmed, and Greek troops were 
ordered to evacuate all Thrace east of the Maritsa river. Thence- 
forward the Nationalist Government of Kemal superseded for 
all practical purposes the Government of Constantinople. 

The Allies' vacillations of four years had brought disillusion- 
ment to Greece and triumph to the Government which defied 
them. The lesson was tardily appreciated, and at the subse- 
quent Conference of Lausanne, which met in November to 
discuss final peace terms, a more whole-hearted unity prevailed 
between Britain, France, and Italy than for many months 
before. Harmonious co-operation between France and Britain 
was perhaps made easier by the resignation of Mr. Lloyd George, 
who had come to be distrusted in France, and by the conse- 
quent latitude enjoyed by Lord Curzon, whose diplomatic 
qualities were allowed full play by the new British Prime 
Minister. France supported Britain throughout in the ques- 
tions of the new Turkish frontier, the protection of minorities, 
and the freedom of the Straits. 

It only remains to add that, as regards France's other main 
interest in these regions, her mandate over Syria had not, during 
the last two years, been entirely successful. Her policy of 
divide et impera aroused much discontent, and at the end of 
1922 the population was still in a state of partial unrest. 


FRANCE before the war was an open field for the sowing of 
anti-militarist seed. All advanced sections of the Socialists 
and Communists professed to have a burning hatred of the 
word "patrie" and the whole system of nationality. Using 
the army as the nursery of the revolutionary force of the future 
they sought by propaganda in every form to teach the young 
revolutionary idea how not to shoot, but how, by the destruction 
of bridges, to ruin mobilisation plans on the outbreak of a war, 
and thus, by mutiny in the face of the enemy, to make war 
impossible. When war did come the whole of the previous 
campaign was as though it had never been, and men who in 
peace had planted the flag on the dunghill moved off to the 
frontiers waving the tricolour high over their heads. 
F 16 


Labour in France was spared at the outset the demoralising 
influence of recruiting-campaigns, Derby schemes and Exemp- 
tion Boards. So great was the need for men in France for the 
first few months, so universal was mobilisation, that even the 
workmen from the State arsenals had to go. The political and 
corporate life of labour therefore ceased for many months, 
and was only taken up again on the conclusion of Peace. 

French socialism had been in many respects a " bogey-man " 
in Europe for ten years before the Great War. It had 
undoubtedly a great Parliamentary mustering. But the figure 
of its representation was in many cases due to the fact that if, 
after the first ballot of an election, those other anti-Republicans, 
the Catholic-Monarchists, saw that their man had no chance, 
the flock of the faithful was instructed to vote for the candidate 
of the Social Revolution, in order to prevent at any cost 
the return of a true Bourgeois Republican. 

The party lacked discipline to such an extent that many of 
its elected deputies failed to pay their subscriptions to the 
Party Funds. Discipline, organisation, numbers such as were 
known with the British Labour and Trades Union movement 
were unknown in France. Thus it was that since only the 
extremist is willing to pay his party subscription, and since only 
one who has done so has a vote, the extremists were able at 
Party Congresses to win the day. Thus is explained the 
apparent contradiction between the fact of the official Socialist 
party becoming steadily throughout the war more revolutionary 
and the elections of 1920, when the Socialists in Parliament and 
their allies of the advanced Left, the Radical Socialists, found 
their numbers reduced from a sturdy party to a handful of 

At the beginning of the war the Socialist party in Parliament, 
tragically deprived of its leader Jaures, for some considerable 
time played no real part in affairs. Its chance came when, 
after long discussion, it was decided that Albert Thomas, Marcel 
Sembat and Jules Guesde should be allowed to enter the 
Ministry. M. Albert Thomas, who had made himself con- 
spicuous as a moderate Socialist with a special competence in 
the essential, as apart from the political, claims of labour, 
became Minister of Munitions and had the task of organising 
the industrial war effort of the country (1915). He alone of 
the three Socialist ministers made his mark. In the face of 
inevitable military opposition he got the necessary workmen 
back from the army into the workshops and accomplished, but 
on a smaller scale, for French output of war material what the 


War Office and Mr. Lloyd George did for British industry. 
For a time, while the Briand Ministries lasted, he was in fact, 
but not in name, the chief Socialist in the Chamber. 

Then came the Russian Revolution. Albert Thomas was 
sent to Russia in the vain hope that he might save Russia as 
an Allied Power. He laboured there, but unavailingly. Then 
came the invitation to an international meeting of Socialists at 
Stockholm (April 1917). That Frenchmen of any party, hue 
or complexion should meet Germans in any place save on the 
front was an idea that could not be swallowed by the country 
at large. No French Government which had dared to give 
passports to French citizens for such a purpose would have 
lasted an hour. Stockholm, and all its possibilities of premature 
peace, became the official doctrine of the Socialist party. Pass- 
ports were refused time after time after angry debates in the 
Chamber of Deputies, and each successive discussion showed 
more clearly that this question would make impossible further 
Socialist participation in ministerial responsibility. These 
sittings of the Chamber of Deputies, while they were made 
memorable by many an eloquent appeal to the spirit of France, 
were rendered odious by the frank avowal of more than one 
Socialist member that the country was tired of butchery ; that 
Capitalism, French, German and British, had made the war ; 
that responsibility for carnage was equally shared. 

The majority of the Socialist party was far from agreement 
with these views. But it became apparent that the Socialist 
44 stop the war " section was making great progress. It had 
as its leader M. Jean Longuet, a man of complete sincerity, 
who had succeeded M. Renaudel in the leadership of the party. 
But his idealism fitted badly to the hard needs of a country's 
struggle for life. For a brief moment Longuet and his followers 
obtained control of the Socialist party machine. Just as 
Marshal Foch believed that the victory ought to have been 
achieved in 1917, so did Longuet and his followers sincerely 
believe that peace was possible, through the efforts of the 
proletariat, at the same date. 

The Russian Revolution was welcomed by Longuet at its 
birth. But as time went on, and the dictatorial excesses of 
that vast upheaval became more and more apparent, so did 
his faith in Soviet methods shrink. And as it shrank so did his 
power diminish. 

He was gradually edged out by the professed Bolshevists 
Marcel Cachin and Frossard, who had been to Soviet Russia ; 
but even so the Bolshevist doctrines did not permeate the 


Socialist body as a whole. The result of the elections of 1919 
came to them as a staggering blow, and their importance in 
parliamentary affairs began to fade. Their power in the 
country too grew less and less ; quarrels between the different 
sections became intensified as time went on, and eventually the 
split in the party was made definite at the Tours Congress of 
1921. For the time being their influence in the political world 
may be regarded as almost negligible. 

When we come to deal with the combination between Socialism 
and Labour, we find that Parliamentary Socialism is in fact 
divorced from the Labour movement of the country much more 
than is Labour from Trades Unionism in Great Britain. Labour 
in France is much better and more numerously represented by 
the General Confederation of Labour a Syndicate of all the 
Trades Union in the country. That body has by an overwhelming 
vote refused to follow the " official " Socialist party in its path 
to Moscow. 

Labour is in fact sound in the country. There is not in 
France the agrarian incitement to Bolshevism that exists in 
Russia, Romania, Hungary and other countries in Europe. 
Land is on the whole fairly distributed. There is a closer 
co-operation between workmen and employers and a keener 
appreciation on each side of the difficulties of the other. There 
is above all and perhaps it may be the deciding factor of 
wisdom the knowledge that the richest provinces of France 
have been laid waste by the Hun, and that the effort of every 
individual in the community, the mutual sacrifice of " patron " 
and of " ouvrier," is necessary if France is to live. 


THE Revolution of 1789, which brought democracy with a 
rush into Europe, altered all European countries, but in France 
the change was more sudden and drastic than elsewhere. 
France was educating her citizens in democratic ideals at a 
time when the word democracy was elsewhere regarded pre- 
cisely as is Bolshevism to-day. Neither the first Empire nor 
the restoration of the Bourbons shook the hold of those prin- 
ciples on the French mind, and France is to-day the most 
conservative of democracies. But nowhere in Europe is there 
less acceptance for the idea that wealth should be pooled and 
an equal ration handed out to everybody. 

Yet, though France is fiercely individualist, the unit for 
France is the family. The rights of property are sacred to the 
French ; but property in their view belongs to the family ; 
and this view is consecrated in the article of Napoleon's code 
which enacts that property at the owner's death must be dis- 
tributed among the kindred, so that equality of opportunity 
is established in the family. Again, the Napoleonic law, 
enforcing the custom of this conservative people, gives to the 
family great power over its members : each marriage is an 
affair for the family, closely connected with property ; and 
the head of the family can forbid the marriage of a minor 
almost in all cases. Thus the idea of authority is preserved 
among this democratic people in its most primitive form ; 
and in two relations it is applied rigorously by the State. First, 
education has been compulsory as well as free since 1850 ; 
every parent, rich or poor, has to comply with regulations in 
this regard. Secondly, military service is exacted from all 
males equally. Thus, so far as law can impose them, there 
is equality of opportunity and equality of sacrifice. 

The conflict of authority with liberty, and the inequality x 
which results from inequality of powers where equal oppor- 
tunity is provided, make the fundamental problem for modern 
European States. Some compromise has everywhere to be 
arrived at, and in France this has been the more difficult 
because of the character of the French mind, which pushes > 



all reasoning to its logical conclusion. Yet the instinctive 
conservatism, which is equally in their character, teaches them 
to guard what really they value most. Their Revolution was a 

v tremendous break with the past ; but when they made it they 
possessed as a nation the most developed civilisation in Europe, 
and the purpose of the revolution was to extend the benefit 
of it to the nation at large. The nation at large was ready to 
profit by the chance. There was no art, craft, or science in 
which the French were not eminent ; industry and thrift were 
the national characteristics of their common people ; and they 
had what they still have supremely, pride in their work and 
attachment to it. But the caution, which was an aspect of 
their thrift, indisposed them to large speculation. 

As a consequence, France was /slow to be affected by the 
other great change which divides the modern world from the 
old order. / The industrial revolution, mainly led by Britain, 
reached her very gradually. The French used modern mechani- 
cal invention rather for perfecting manufactures than for mass- 
production of cheap goods ; and therefore the grouping of 
population in huge industrial centres was a comparatively late 
development among them. Even to-day, France has more 
than half of her people employed on the land : she has only 
fourteen towns of over 100,000 inhabitants as against forty- 
seven in Great Britain. But the country towns, such as 
Orleans, or even much smaller places, retain a distinctive life 
and urban character of their own ; and everywhere the small 
establishments survive. At the top there are survivals of 
privilege ; the old nobility remain as a picturesque feature of 
French life ; but their ranks are thinned by the disappearance 
of some families and the impoverishment of others, and the 
haute bourgeoisie of banking, speculation, and great enterprises 
takes its place among them and buys their ancestral chateaux 
or builds new ones. 

The State, however, is stabilised by three facts : First, the 

v^provision of thoroughly good education, available for every one, 
/Snakes access to the lower rungs of the ladder easy where there 
is talent. Secondly, outside the bourgeoisie, yet possessing all 
the conscious pride of ownership, is the growing class of peasant 
proprietors, who with their dependents make one-fourth of the 
entire people. With them rank the great multitude of small 
independent artisans, who retain a large proportion of the 
work which in other countries is monopolised by capitalised 
concerns. Thirdly, and finally, is the wage-earning class of 
manual labour. The habit of thrift is so widespread that vast 



numbers of them, men and women, own savings which education 
has taught them to invest, and which State policy has encouraged 
them to invest in bonds of their own Government. They are 
a nation of small investors ; capital is extraordinarily diffused ; 
and it is mainly so invested as to give citizens a money interest 
in the State's stability. 

As a nation, the French own a very large tract of Europe 
in proportion to their numbers. The population of France is 
73 to the square kilometre ; that of England 239 ; that of 
Belgium 252 : certainly not because France is less rich or 
fertile than these neighbouring lands. They have therefore 
much to defend : their own way of life, their conception of 
liberty, which they asserted by the sword against Europe 
five generations ago ; and a rich national estate, the land on 
which they live and which they exploit mainly for themselves 
alone. They are little bound up with the economic life of 
other lands. France imports very little but raw materials, 
and exports very little but luxuries. She has also in the last 
decades made great acquisitions overseas, which ensure to her 
coveted supplies of the raw material which she needs. 

Such a position is naturally coveted, and ever since 1870 
the fear of foreign invasion has driven this land of liberty to 
impose on all its citizens the extremest sacrifice of personal 
freedom. The army is the most complete and characteristic 
expression of France. Every man has to pass through the 
ranks, except the small number of officer candidates specially 
trained at St. Cyr ; nothing but physical disability secures 
exemption. Every Frenchman has for two years of his life to 
be the messmate of every other kind of Frenchman ; and this 
association makes for solidarity and reconciles democracy to ' 
the existence of wide social differences. Again, in every French- 
man the tendency to resent interference is modified by the 
universal experience of a strict discipline. Another consequence 
is physical : the French system of education is very exacting 
and leaves little room for games ; but it is followed by a period 
in which the male citizen is trained in the hardest form of 
physical labour, that of marching under a heavy pack. 

Since the army is the nation, troubles which affect the 
nation affect the army also. France has been divided since 
the Revolution between clerical and anti-clerical, and the 
division grew more acute than ever under the Third Republic, 
largely because of the growing importance attached to educa- 
tion. Clerical France claimed, according to the universal 
tradition of the Roman Church, the right of Catholic parents 


to have their children educated in a Catholic atmosphere, under 
the supervision of priests. This claim was firmly resisted by 
the anti-clericals, who based themselves on the ground that 
such education was neither enlightened nor enlightening. But 
a more definite motive operated. The old aristocracy, Catholic 
and monarchical, withdrew itself from all forms of the public 
service, except the military ; but a very large proportion of its 
sons became professional soldiers. The strength of this element 
was considered a danger to the Republic, because this class 
as a class was monarchist, and its tendencies were held to be 
accentuated and directed by the great clerical organisation. A 
series of legislative and administrative acts were directed against 
the influence of the clergy in education ; and this course of 
repression, amounting almost to persecution, found acceptance 
in France at large, through fear lest the army should be seduced 
from its Republican allegiance. Estrangement between citizens 
resulting from this political strife was so bitter that men of 
opposite camps could hardly be induced to act together for 
any common purpose, even in the least controversial matters. 
But when the war came, to preserve what was dearest the 
French closed their ranks. One cannot say that the army 
united France, because the army was France ; but the fact 
that Marshal Foch, a devout Catholic, was no less essential to 
the final victory than M. C16menceau, an extreme anti-clerical, 
is a symbol. The Republic, having triumphed in this ordeal, 
may be regarded as definitely established ; but to France as a 
whole, the Republican system is little more than " the plan 
which divides us least," accepted as a means to preserve 
what Frenchmen unanimously hold to the traditional life of 

That way of life seeks after extreme individual freedom, 

/ under which prosperity and happiness are pursued by a people 
of extreme intelligence, perseverance, and economy, yet resent- 
ful of organisation. The Frenchman who accepts organisation 
readily is, as a rule, deficient in energy, and, as a rule, he enters 
one of the Government departments, which are, as a rule, the 

)>< least admirable things in France. The Frenchman who has 
energy desires to express himself personally in his work ; he 
works like an artist according to his own conceptions. This 
individualism is a danger. In the war, opposed to an enemy 
vastly superior to them in organisation, they won, in so far as 
they did win, by the brain-power of individuals ; but they 
know how narrowly they escaped defeat. 

Since the war they see a new menace to their way of life 


in the growing collectivism of industry ; and they, as a nation 
of individual workers and of small capitalists, are in reaction 
against communism on the one hand and international trusts 
on the other. Their traditional policy seeks at creating a 
State large enough to be economically self-contained ; finding 
within its own borders the material for its industry and the 
markets for its products. They desire to exclude the cheap 
products which are the result of highly organised mechanical 
production ; and also, as against the syndicalist tendencies, 
they desire to preserve the freedom of the individual workers. 
Liberty, equality, and fraternity do not mean internationalism 
to them. Yet their nationalism is hospitable : it welcomes 
the individual foreigner as a fellow worker or fellow student 
among them ; they are keenly observant of foreign thought, 
ready in adapting it, yet putting their own accent on whatever 
they do ; progressive, yet intensely conservative ; wedded to 
their own way of life ; the least emigrating people in the world ; 
desirous to be free in order to remain French. 

But they do not feel secure in their freedom. A nation of 
soldiers, they know what war means far too well to be mili- 
tarist ; but they are trained to think as soldiers. Twice in 
living memory they have seen their country overrun. The 
very completeness of Germany's defeat renders them certain 
that desire for vengeance will bring a renewal of the struggle. 
Her own revanche has left France dreading the counterstroke, 
almost from the moment of victory. 

But the first danger was economic, not military. The huge y 
damage of war in France was not limited to the effect of military 
operations. The whole plant of industry, even to the growing 
fruit-trees, was destroyed by the retreating Germans in order 
to cripple an economic competitor. France has restored the 
land to culture with astonishing speed ; but the re- equipping 
of great mining and industrial centres is a slow task. By the 
Treaty of Versailles it was laid down that re-equipment of 
devastated France should be at the cost of Germany. Yet all 
the cost of the reparation so far accomplished has been borne 
by loans raised in France. Germany has paid no more than 
a fraction and declares her inability to pay more, unless she 
is given time to recover. Meantime the German industrial 
equipment is intact, 1 and the French fear lest vanquished Ger- 
many may secure such a mastery of the markets as shall turn 
military defeat into economic victory. 

Having themselves paid a stupendous indemnity after the 

1 Written just before the French occupation of the Ruhr, Jan. 1923. ED. 


war of 1870, they regard Germany as wilfully dishonest, and 
French opinion has tended to demand such pressure on the 
debtor nation as France suffered fifty years ago. But the 
policy of France sees no prospect of security unless through 
maintaining alliance with Great Britain, and the interests of 
the two allied Powers diverge. Great Britain soon wrote off 
as a bad debt all hope of a share in the German reparations ; 
her interest looks for a general revival of trade in Europe, 
which cannot be, if Germany's power to buy and sell is destroyed. 
On the other hand, all the financial arrangements of France 
since the war have been made on the assumption that Germany 
would pay, and bankruptcy stares her in the face, unless Ger- 
many can be made to pay. It would be bankruptcy, not like 
that of Russia at the expense of foreign investors ; France's 
creditors are the whole body of her own people ; and the 
lending of all savings to the State has, during the war and since 
the war, been preached and practised as a national duty. At 
present the French Government can only meet the interest 
on the loans due to its own citizens by fresh borrowings from 
the same source. Failure to meet these obligations would go 
far to destroy that disposition of all the people, down to the 
maidservant in a cheap lodging, to bring all savings into a 
common national fund, which has been for a century the main 
strength of France. 

There is therefore a feverish determination to make Germany 
pay what she owes. In this determination France is solid : 
a nation of small investors standing on guard lest France 
should make default of the vast loans from innumerable petty 
savings. The only arguments which can affect the mind of 
France had to show that by insisting on the full sum of her 
demand she risks losing all ; and that she could better afford 
to delay than to urge her claim. 

Economically and politically France could probably afford to 
wait. A nation of small producers, having thrift ingrained 
into them, the French put by a profit even in periods when 
nations whose industry is mainly in great enterprises are 
working at a loss. Peasant-proprietors cut down their own 
wages, that is to say, they spend less on themselves, when a 
pinch comes ; they do not go out of employment ; production 
goes on. The social order, too, is strongly established : no 
nation has less cause to fear revolution than one where owner- 
ship is so widely diffused. 

But the willingness of France to wait, rather than to force 
an issue by ruthless pressure, depends on her conviction that 


after a period she will maintain her present strength. The 
balance of numbers goes against her with delay ; for thrift 
and the diffusion of property are closely bound up with the 
practice of limiting families. Arguments and appeals, whether 
from Church or State, have little effect against these causes : 
the birth-rate is shrinking faster since the war than before it. 
A tentative remedy has indeed been applied : all persons 
employed by the State receive a subsistence allowance of 
330 francs a year for each child under sixteen ; if there are 
more than two children, the allowance is 480 francs for each 
child after the second. But even the higher rate, at present 
value, is scarcely equal to seven pounds, and to raise the birth- 
rate the subsidy must be universal and lavish. On the other t 
hand, many able French thinkers hold that the strength of 
a State lies in increasing the quality, not the quantity, of its 
citizens. A system of education and of training, by which 
every man will be a picked man as compared with the general 
level of humanity, is their ideal ; and it is probable that the 
French have already the most efficient population in Europe, 
whether for war or peace. 

But in modern war a superiority of two to one is decisive 
when equipment and training are approximately equal, and 
France never loses the thought of having to face that. During 
the late war she found a resource on which few had reckoned 
in her African levies. Their proved valour has converted 
what used to be the doctrine of a group into an accepted 
national policy. France is now inevitably committed to become 
a great African power. She holds more than half of the 
Mediterranean coast of Africa ; and that France should make 
French citizens of her Arab subjects is quite possible : especi- 
ally because the French are very much less impeded than the 
British have been, not only in Africa, but among the ancient 
civilisations of the East, by the sense of a colour bar. The 
great difficulty which France has to surmount is the rigidity 
of Mohammedanism in its resistance to the habits and discipline 
of Western Europe ; on the other hand, Islam has proved an 
extraordinary capacity for introducing civilisation among the 
natives of Central Africa. If it creates a difficulty for those 
who would Europeanise, it has already also done much pioneer 
work in civilisation over regions which France now controls. 
For south of the Mediterranean belt lies the French Sudan, 
in great part inhabited by well- clad Mohammedan peoples, 
possessing a high degree of culture, skilful and industrious, 
and, moreover, at once capable of fighting and amenable to 


discipline. France has made her own of most of these peoples. 
In her dominions she has stopped the perpetual slave-raiding, 
which for many centuries arrested development ; she has made 
the ways safe. Now, with her control of Morocco, she has 
gained a new and fertile country, no less fit than Algeria for 
her own colonists, and possessing a population like that of 
Algeria, which has in it many individuals almost of the Southern 
European type. 

The extension of French power in Africa may well prove to 
be a phenomenon of even greater significance than the empire 
of Britain in India. It touches Europe more nearly ; it 
carries menace as well as hope. But whatever be the result, 
France, which before was tentatively embarked on it, is now 
tied to persist, because she solves in a measure her problem of 
man-power in war. 

Those who value European civilisation will be anxious as to 
the result of any great change in French policy. But under 
repeated revolutions in the type of its government, and through 
incredibly frequent changes of administration, France has 
\J remained itself ; a country of contradictions ; stable in per- 
petual flux ; avid of new ideas, yet obstinately conservative 
of proven usage ; retaining the utmost provincial diversity 
under the most highly centralised machinery of government 
in Europe ; intensely proud of its capital, yet intensely jealous 
of it. Paris has less preponderant power in France than it 
had before the development of communications, but it is more 
apart than before from the rest of the country, owing to its 
increasing cosmopolitanism. Yet it remains French ; for it 
is France that makes Paris, not Paris that makes France. The 
essential France is France of the country and of the country 
towns, with its 1,800,000 peasant proprietors and 1,200,000 
independent artisans and petty manufacturers and contractors 
who stand out against the collectivism of modern society, 
the excessive regimentation and excessive production which 
is the triumph of mechanical development ; yet who are, for 
all that, progressive. You may find a little farmhouse in a 
village of little farmhouses where the life and the house seem 
absolutely rude and primitive ; yet there is electric light in 
the cow-byre and an electric threshing-machine in the barn. 
And you may find the son of such a farmer passing easily into 
the Parisian world as an artist, an aviator, a scientist, a field- 
marshal, and bringing into it the power of endurance which 
comes from a peasant stock. The most characteristic expres- 
sion of France is perhaps to be found in towns : it is an urban 


civilisation like that of Rome ; but, unlike the Roman, it has 
succeeded in avoiding divorce from the soil. French civilisa- 
tion, more than any other civilisation in Europe, springs from 
the individual effort of French citizens on the whole body 
politic ; its advantages, and the appreciation of them, are 
distributed more evenly on the whole body politic than in any 
other state. Culture has spread wider and struck deeper in 
France than elsewhere in Europe ; and for that reason the 
welfare of Europe is bound up with the welfare of France. 


800. Coronation of Charlemagne. 

814. Death of Charlemagne. 

843. Treaty of Verdun. 

845. The Vikings sack Paris. 

877. Death of Charles the Bald. 

885. The great siege of Paris by the 

911 (or 921). The Treaty with the 

Northmen of Clair-sur-Este. 
956. Death of Hugh the Great, Count 

of Paris. 

The House of Capet, 987-1328 

987. Accession of Hugh Capet to the 

French throne. 
1000. Beginning of a great religious 


Henri I, 1031-1060 

1054. Battle of Mortemer. Victory of 
William of Normandy 

1056. Battle of Varaville. Victory of 
William of Normandy. 

Philippe I, 1060-1103 

1066. Conquest of England by William 

of Normandy. 
1095. Council of Clermont. Beginning 

of the Crusades. 

Louis VI, 1100-1137 
Louis VII, 1137-1180 


Louis VII sets out on the Second 
Crusade. Suger left in 
charge of the kingdom. 
1152. Louis divorces Eleanor of Aqui- 

Philippe II (Auguste), 1180-1223 

1190. Philippe sets out on the Third 

1204. Philippe conquers Normandy, 

Maine, Anjou. 

1206. Philippe conquers Poitou. 
1211-1213. Defeat of the Albigenses 

(Battle of Muret, Sept. 12, 

1214. Battle of Bouvines, Philippe 

wins a decisive victory. 

Louis VIII, 1223-1226 

(Saint) Louis IX, 1226-1270 

1226-1233. Blanche of Castile Regent. 

1249. Louis is captured at Mansura. 
1259. The Peace of Paris between 

Louis and Henry III. 
1270. While on a Crusade Louis dies 

at Carthage. 

Philippe III, 1270-1285 
Philippe IV, 1285-1314 

1299-1303. Struggle between Philippe 
IV and Boniface VIII. 

1302. Meeting of the States-General ; 
Defeat of Philippe by the 
Flemings at Courtrai. 

1304. Philippe defeats the Flemings. 

1305. Clement V at Avignon. 
1312. Abolition of the Templars. 

Louis X, 1314-1316 
Philippe V, 1316-1322 

1317. Adoption of the Salic Law. 

Charles IV, 1322-1328 
1324. Invasion of Guyenne. 

The House of Valoia, 1328-1589 
Philippe VI (of Valois), 1328-1356 

1336. Arrest of English merchants in 


1337. The Hundred Years' War (1337- 

1453) begins. 

1346. French defeated in the Battle of 

Crecy (Aug. 26). 

1347. The French lose Calais. 

Jean, 1350-1364 

1356. Battle of Poitiers (Sept. 19). 
1358. Etienne Marcel organises a revo- 
lution in Paris. 
360. Peace of Calais (Oct. 28). 




Charles V, 1364-1380 

1369. War with England. 

1370. The Massacre of Limoges. 
1375. English naval defeat off La 

1375-1377. Truce with England. 

1381. Truce for six years with Eng- 


Charles VI, 1380-1422 

1382. Battle of Roosebeek. 

1389. A thirty years' truce with Eng- 

1392. Charles becomes insane. 

1410. Civil war in France. 

1412. Jean sans Peur, Duke of Bur- 
gundy, is supreme. 

1415. Battle of Agincourt (Oct. 25). 

1419. Murder of Jean, Duke of Bur- 


1420. Treaty of Troyes (May). 

Charles VII, 1422-1461 

1423. French defeated at Cravant and 

1429. Jeanne d'Arc raises the siege of 

1431. Execution of Jeanne d'Arc. 

1435. Treaty of Arras between Bur- 
gundy and Charles VII. 

1438. The Pragmatic Sanction drawn 

up at Bourges. 

1439. A permanent tax and a Stand- 

ing Army established by the 

1439-1440. The Praguerie. 
1453. End of Hundred Years' War. 

Louis XI, 1461-1483 

1465. The League of Public Weal. 
1467. Accession of Charles the Bold 
to the Burgundian dominions. 

1474. Charles the Bold plans the for- 

mation of a Middle Kingdom. 

1475. Treaty of Pecquigny (August) 

between Louis XI and Ed- 
ward IV. 

1477. Death of Charles the Bold, whose 
daughter Mary marries Maxi- 
milian, son of the Emperor. 

Charles VIII, 1483-1498 

1483-1491. Regency of Anne of Beau- 

1491. Marriage of Charles VIII to 

Anne of Brittany. 

1492. Treaty of Etaples with England. 

1493. Treaty of Barcelona with Spain, 

and Treaty of Senlis with 

The Beginning of Modern Times, and 
of the Italian Wars 

1494. Invasion of Italy by Charles VIII. 

1495. Entry of Charles into Naples 

(Feb.) ; Battle of Fornovo 

Louis XII, 1498-1515 

1499-1500. Louis takes Milan. 

1508. Louis joins the League of Cam- 

1511-1513. War of the Holy League. 

Frangois I, 1515-1547 

1515. Battle of Marignano. 

1516, Concordat between Francis and 

Leo X. 

1520. Fran9ois meets Henry VIII at 

the Field of Cloth of Gold. 

1521. Definite beginning of the Wars 

between France and Austria ; 
French invasion of Navarre. 

1525. Battle of Pavia (Feb.) ; Fran- 
9ois taken prisoner. 

1528. The French receive from Sulei- 
man trading privileges in 

1541-1544. Wars with Charles V, end- 
ing with the Peace of Crespy. 

Henri II, 1547-1559 

1547. Henri marries Catherine de' 

1552. Henri gains Metz, Toul, Verdun 

and Cambrai. 

1557. French Army defeated in Battle 

of St. Quentin (Aug.). 

1558. Capture by French of Calais 

(Jan.).; marriage of the Dau- 
phin Francois to Mary Queen 
of Scots. 

1559. Peace of Cateau-Cambresis 

(April 3). 

Francois II, 1559-1560 

1560. The Conspiracy of Amboise. 

Charles IX, 1560-1574 

1562. The Vassy Massacre : opening 
of the French Civil Wars. 

1572. Massacre of St. Bartholomew 
(Aug. 24). 



Henri III, 1574-1589 

1580. Death of Anjou. Reorganisation 

of the League. 
1585. Outbreak of the War of the 

three Henris. 

1588. Murder of the Duke of Guise at 

Blois (Dec.). 

The Bourbon Kings, 1589-1793 and 

Henri IV, 1584-1610 

1589. Henri IV defeats Mayenne at 

Arques (Sept.). 

1590. Battle of Ivry. 

1593. Henri IV adopts Roman Catho- 

1598. The Edict of Nantes (April) ; 
the Peace of Vervins (May). 

1610. Murder of Henri IV. 

Louis XIII, 1610-1643 

1614. Civil War; meeting of the 

States- General. 

1618. The Thirty Years' War opens. 
1624. Richelieu becomes Minister ; 

marriage of Henrietta Maria 

to Prince Charles arranged. 
1627. Huguenots revolt; siege of La 

1635. France definitely enters the 

Thirty Years' War. 
1638. Birth of the Dauphin (later 

Louis XIV). 

1642. Death of Richelieu. 

Louis XIV, 1643-1715 

1643. Mazarin becomes First Minister. 

1647. Treaty of Ulm with Bavaria 


1648. Defeat of Bavaria by Turenne 

at Zusmarshausen (May) ; in- 
surrection of the Fronde and 
victory at Lens (Aug.) ; the 
Peace of Westphalia (Oct. 24) 
ends the Thirty Years' War. 

1649. The Peace of Rueil (April) ends 

the First Fronde. 

1650. Outbreak of Second Fronde. 

1653. End of the Second Fronde. 

1654. Coronation of Louis XIV. 
1656. Pascal writes his " Provincial 


1659. The Treaty of the Pyrenees 

(Nov. 7). 

1660. Louis' marriage with the In- 

fanta (June). 

1661. Louis XIV rules; Colbert Chief 


1667-1668. The Devolution War. 

1668. Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle (May). 

1670. Secret Treaty of Dover (June). 

1 672. Invasion of Holland (April- Aug.) 

1674. At war with the Emperor, Ger- 
man Princes, and Spain. 

1678. The Peace of Nimeguen (Nij- 

1679-1681. The Chambres de Reunion 
secure territory. 

1681. Seizure of Strassburg by 
Louis XIV. 

1685. Revocation of the Edict of 

1688-1697. War of the League of 

1697. The Peace of Ryswick (Rijswijk). 

1698. The First Partition Treaty. 

1700. The Second Partition Treaty 

(March) ; Louis accepts the 
will of Charles II of Spain 
(Nov. 16). 

1701. French troops occupy the Bar- 

rier Towns (Feb.) ; Louis 
recognises the son of 
James II as King of England 
(Sept. 6). 

1702. War declared against France 

and Spain by England, Hol- 
land and the Emperor (May 4). 

The Spanish Succession War, 

1704. Battle of Blenheim (Aug. 13). 
1706. Battle of Ramillies (May 23). 

1708. Battle of Oudenarde (June 30). 

1709. Peace negotiations at The Hague 

(Feb.-May) ; battle of Mal- 

plaquet (Sept. 11). 
Destruction of Port Royal 

(monastery) ; Peace Congress 

at Gertruydenberg (Feb.- 

Philip renounces his claim to 

the French throne (July). 

1713. Peace of Utrecht (April). 

1714. Peace of Rastatt (March), and 

Peace of Baden (Sept.). 
Death of Louis XIV. 




Louis XV, 1715-1774 

1715. Orleans is appointed Regent. 

1717. The Triple Alliance (France, 

England and Holland). 

1718. Suppression of Councils formed 

in 1715. 

1719. France at war with Spain till 




1723. End of Regency; deaths of 
Dubois and Orleans ; Bour- 
bon First Minister (Dec.). 

1725. Marriage of Louis XV to Marie 


1726. Fleury First Minister. 

1729. Birth of the Dauphin (Sept.) ; 

Treaty of Seville (Nov.). 
1731-1732. Quarrel between the Parle- 

ment of Paris and the Crown. 

The Polish Succession War, 

1733. Treaty of Turin (Sept.) ; War 
with Austria declared (Oct.) ; 
Treaty of the Escurial (Nov.). 

1737. Third Treaty of Vienna, France 
secures the reversion to Lor- 

The War of the Austrian Succession, 

1743. Death of Fleury (Jan. 29) ; 

Battle of Dettingen ; Second 
Family Compact with Spain 

1744. Declaration of war against Eng- 

land (March). 

1748. The Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle. 
1752-1756. Struggle with the Parle- 

ment of Paris. 

1753. Duquesne occupies the Valley 

of the Ohio. 

1754. Recall of Dupleix from India. 

1756. The First Treaty of Versailles 


The Seven Years' War, 1756-1763 

1757. The Second Treaty of Versailles 

(May) ; Prussians defeat 
French and Austrians at 
Rossbach (Nov.). 

1758. Choiseul Minister of Foreign 


1759. Death of Montcalm (Sept.) ; 

loss of Quebec. 

1760. Defeat at Wandewash (Jan.) ; 

surrender of Montreal. 

1761. Third Family Compact with 

Spain (Aug.). 

1762. Rousseau's Contrat Social pub- 


1763. Peace of Paris (Feb. 10) ; ends 

the Seven Years' War. 
1767. Expulsion of the Jesuits. 

1769. Birth of Napoleon in Corsica. 

1770. Marriage of the Dauphin to 

Marie Antoinette (May) ; fall 
of Choiseul (Dec.). 

F 17 

1771. The Government of the Trium- 

virate ; overthrow of the 

1772. French support given to the 

revolution in Sweden. 

Louis XVI, 1774-1793 

1774. Maurepas First Minister ; Tur- 
got Controller-General ; Ver- 
gennes Minister of Foreign 
Affairs ; Recall of the Par- 
lement (Aug.). 

1776. Dismissal of Turgot (May). 

1778. French Alliance with Americans 
(Feb.) ; war with England 

1782. Treaty of Versailles (Sept.). 

The French Revolution 
1789. Meeting of the States-General 
(May 5) ; fall of the Bastille 
(July 14). 

1791. The flight to Varennes (June) ; 

dissolution of the Constituent 
Assembly (Sept. 30) ; meet- 
ing of the Legislative Assem- 
bly (Oct. 1). 

1792. Declaration of war against Aus- 

tria (April 20) ; against 
Prussia (July 8) ; the fall of 
the Monarchy (Aug. 10) ; the 
September Massacres ; vic- 
tory at Valmy (Sept. 20) ; 
victory at Jemappes (Nov. 6); 
decrees of Nov. 19 and 
Dec. 15. 

1793. Execution of Louis XVI (Jan. 

21) ; declaration of war on 
England and Holland (Feb. 
1) ; and on Spain (March). 

1793. Overthrow of the Girondists 

(June 2) ; formation of the 
Great Committee of Public 
Safety (July). 

1794. Fall of Robespierre (July). 

1795. Treaties of Basle. 

The Directory, 1795 (#ov.)-1799 

1796. Bonaparte's successful Italian 


1797. Revolution of 18th Fructidor 

(Sept. 4) ; Treaty of Campo 
Formio (Oct.). 

1798. Expedition to Egypt; defeat 

of the fleet in the Battle of 
the Nile (Aug. 1). 

1799. War of the Second Coalition; 

the French lose Italy ; revo- 
lution of the 18th Brumaire 
(Nov. 9). 



The Consulate, 1799-1804 

1800. Battles of Marengo (June 14) 

and Hohenlinden (Dec. 3). 

1801. Treaty of Luneville ; failure of 

the Armed Neutrality ; Con- 
cordat with the Pope (July) ; 
evacuation of Egypt. 

1802. Peace of Amiens ; Bonaparte 

becomes First Consul. 

1803. Renewal of war with England 

(May 18). 

The First Empire 

1804. Napoleon Emperor of the French 

(Nov. 6), 1804-1814. 

1805. Battles of Trafalgar (Oct. 21) 

and Austerlitz (Dec. 2) ; 
Treaty of Pressburg (Dec. 26). 

1806. Joseph Bonaparte, King of 

Naples ; Louis Bonaparte, 
King of Holland; the Con- 
federation of the Rhine 
(July 12) ; the Holy Roman 
Empire comes to an end 
(Aug. 6) ; battle of Jena 
(Oct. 14) ; the First Berlin 
Decrees (Nov. 21). 

1807. Treaties of Tilsit (July) ; entry 

of Junot into Lisbon (Nov.) ; 
the Milan Decrees (Dec.). 

1808. Joseph Bonaparte King of 

Spain ; capitulation of Baylen 
(July 21) ; Conference in 
Erfurt (Oct.) ; Napoleon in 
Spain (Dec.- Jan.). 

1809. Battle of Corunna (Jan. 16) ; 

War with Austria (April) ; 
Treaty of Vienna (Oct. 14). 

1810. Napoleon marries Marie Louise 

of Austria (April) ; Alexander 
partially withdraws from Con- 
tinental System (Deo. 31). 

1812. The Moscow Expedition. 

1813. The War of Liberation; Napo- 

leon wins the battles of Liitzen 
(May 2) and Bautzen 
(May 20) ; armistice of Ples- 
witz (June 4) ; French defeat 
at Vittoria (June 21) ; reopen- 
ing of hostilities (Aug. 12) ; 
battle of Leipzig (Oct. 16-19); 
invasion of France by the 
Allies (Dec. 31). 

1814. A series of battles (Feb., March) ; 

abdication of Napoleon 
(April 6). 

Louis XVIII, 1814-1824 
1814. Louis XVIII enters Paris 
(May 3) ; First Treaty of 
Paris (May 30). 

1815. Napoleon lands in France ; 
battle of Waterloo (June 18) ; 
abdication of Napoleon 
(June 22) ; is sent to St. 
Helena; Second Treaty of 
Paris (Nov. 20) ; the White 
Terror in the South of France. 

1816-1818. Richelieu heads a Ministry. 

1820. Assassination of the Due de 

Berry ; Richelieu again Prime 
Minister (Feb.). 

1821. Death of Napoleon (May 5) ; 

Villele, Prime Minister. 

1822. Laws passed restraining free- 

dom of Press. 
1824. Death of Louis XVIII (Sept.). 

Charles X, 1824-1830 

1827. New elections go against the 


1828. Formation of the Martignac 


1829. Formation of the Polignac 


1830. The Revolution of "Three 

Days " (July 27, 28, 29). 

Louis Philippe, 1830-1848 

1830. Independence of Belgium recog- 
nised (Nov.). 

1846. The Spanish marriages. 

1848. Revolutionary outbreaks in 
Paris (Feb.) ; abdication of 
Louis Philippe (Feb. 24). 

The Republic of 1848 

1848. Revolutionary outbreaks in Paris 
suppressed (June) ; Louis 
Napoleon President of the 
Republic (Dec.). 

1851. Napoleon carries out a coup 

d'itat (Dec. 1-2). 

1852. Napoleon proclaimed Emperor 

(Dec. 2). 

Napoleon III, 1852-1870 

1853. Napoleon marries Donna Eugenia 

de Monti jo. 

1854. France enters the Crimean War 

1856. The Peace of Paris (March). 

1858. Orsini attempts the life of 

Napoleon (June 16) ; meet- 
ing of Napoleon and Cavour 
at Plombieres (July). 

1859. War with Austria (May) ; Treaty 

of Villafranca (July). 



1860. France secures Savoy and Nice 


1861. Expedition to Mexico. 

1863. Napoleon demonstrates in favour 
of Poland. 

1865. Meeting of Napoleon and Bis- 
marck at Biarritz (Sept.). 

1866-1867. French troops withdrawn 
from Mexico. 

1867. Napoleon fails to obtain Luxem- 
bourg ; French troops defeat 
Garibaldi at Mentana(Nov. 3). 

1870. France declares war upon Prussia 

(July 19) ; catastrophe of 
Sedan (Sept. 2) ; Napoleon 

The Third Republic, 1870-1922 
1870-1871. Siege of Paris. 

1871. The Commune (March) ; Treaty 

of Frankfort (May 10) ; Thiers 
President of the Republic 
(Aug. 31 to May 24, 1873). 

1872. Military Law ; five years' ser- 

vice ; Thiers pronounces for 
a Republic (Nov. 13) ; ap- 
pointment of Committee of 
Thirty (Nov. 29) ; recon- 
struction of the Ministry 
(Nov. 30). 

1873. Fall of Thiers (May 24) ; Mac- 

Mahon President of the Re- 
public ; First Ministry of de 
Broglie (May 25) ; final Ger- 
man evacuation of French 
territory (Sept. 5) ; trial of 
Bazaine (Oct. 6-Dec. 6) ; the 
Septennate Law (Nov. 20). 

1874. The Mayors Law (Jan. 30) ; 

Treaty with Annam ( Mar. 15); 
fall of de Broglie (May 16) ; 
de Cissey Ministry (May 24). 

1875. Constitutional Legislation (Jan. 

to Nov.) ; the " Wallon Mo- 
tion " carried (Jan. 30) ; the 
Constitution voted (Feb. 25) ; 
resignation of de Cissey 
(Feb. 26) ; Buffet Ministry 
(Mar. 10) ; Higher Education 
Law (July 12) ; dissolution 
of the Assembly (Dec. 31). 

1876. First Dufaure Ministry (Mar. 10); 

Ministry of Jules Simon 
(Dec. 12). 

1877. Period of Congo Exploration ; 

Constitutional Crisis ("Seize 
Mai") (May 16); Second 
Ministry of de Broglie 
(May 17) ; Berlin Congress 
(June 13) ; Ministry of Roche- 

bouet (Nov. 23) ; Second 
Ministry of Dufaure (Dec. 15). 

1878. International Exhibition at 

Paris ; Treaty of San Ste- 
fano (Mar. 3) ; Congress of 
Berlin (June 13). 

1879. Resignation of MacMahon ; Jules 

Gr6vy, President of the Re- 
public (Jan. 30) ; Ministry of 
Waddington (Feb. 4) ; death 
of the Prince Imperial in 
Zululand (June 1) ; First 
Ministry of de Freycinet 
(Dec. 28) ; Jules Ferry at 
Ministry of Public Instruc- 
tion (Dec. 28). 

1880. Education decrees of Ferry ; 

First Ministry of Jules Ferry 
(Sept. 23). 

1881. Further educational legislation ; 

Treaty of the Bardo (Tunis) 
(May 12) ; law establishing 
right of Public Meeting 
(June 30) ; capture of Qair- 
wan (Oct. 28) ; Ministry of 
Gambetta (" Le Grand Minis- 
Mre") (Nov. 14). 

1882. Second Ministry of de Freycinet 

(Jan. 30) ; primary educa- 
tion made compulsory 
(Mar. 28) ; the Triple Alliance 
(May 28) ; Ministry of Du- 
clerc (Aug. 7) ; death of 
Gambetta (Dec. 31). 

1883. Consolidation of French West 

African dominions (Jan. 10) ; 
Second Ministry of Jules 
Ferry (Feb. 21) ; French 
Protectorate in Tunisia estab- 
lished (June 8) ; Treaty with 
Annam (Aug. 25). 

1884. Admiral Courbet's successes in 

the Far East (Aug.). 

1885. Final Act of Berlin Conference 

(Feb.) ; French reverse at 
Langson (Tongking)(Mar. 29) ; 
Ministry of Brisson (April 6) ; 
Scrutin de liste introduced 
(June 8) ; Treaty of Tientsin 
(June 9) ; General Elections 

1885-1887. Explorations of Binger in 
West Africa. 

1886. Third Ministry of de Freycinet 

(Jan. 7) ; rise of Bou- 
langer ; Ministry of Goblet 
(Dec. 11). 

1887. The Schnsebele Affair (April) ; 

Ministry of Rouvier (May 30) ; 
resignation of GreVy : Carnot 



President of the Republic 
(Dec. 3) ; First Ministry of 
Tirard (Dec. 12). 

1888. Ministry of Floquet (April 3). 

1889. Scrutin d' arrondissement reim- 

posed (Feb. 11) ; Second 
Ministry of Tirard (Feb. 22) ; 
flight of Boulanger (April 1) ; 
International Exhibition at 
Paris (April 1) ; Military Law : 
Three Years' Service (July 18) ; 
condemnation of Boulanger 
(Aug. 14) ; General Election 

1890. Fourth Ministry of de Freycinet 

(Mar. 17) ; Monteil's march 
through Africa (1890-2) ; 
Social Legislation ; Treaty 
with England as to Africa 
(Aug. 5) ; Treaty with Da- 
homey (Oct. 3). 

1891. French squadron visits Kron- 

stadt (July) ; Franco-Rus- 
sian Treaty (Aug. 27). 

1892. Dodds' expedition in Dahomey ; 

the Panama scandals ; Minis- 
try of Loubet (Feb. 27) ; 
Ministry of Ribot (Dec. 6) ; 
Treaty with Liberia (Dec. 8). 

1893. Dahomey constituted a colony 

(Mar.) ; First Ministry of 
Dupuy (April 6) ; Treaty with 
Britain as to Gold and Ivory 
Coasts (July 12) ; Anglo- 
French Treaty as to Indo- 
China (July 31) ; Treaty with 
Siam (Oct. 3) ; Ministry of 
Casimir-Perier (Dec. 2) ; mili- 
tary Treaty with Russia 
(Dec. 27). 
1893-1894. Anarchist outbreaks. 

1894. Expedition of Bonnier and Joffre 

to Timbuktu ; Franco- Ger- 
man agreement as to frontier 
of the Cameroons (May 15) ; 
Second Ministry of Dupuy 
(May 29) ; assassination of 
Carnot ; Casimir-Perier Presi- 
dent of the Republic (June 
25) ; condemnation of Dreyfus 

1895. Resignation of Casimir-Perier 

(Jan. 15) ; Faure President 
of the Republic ; Ministry of 
Ribot; Ministry of L6on 
Bourgeois (Nov.). 

1896. Anglo-French Agreement as to 

Nigeria and Indo- China 
(Jan. 15) ; Ministry of Meline 
(April 29) ; annexation of 

Madagascar (May 30) ; visit 
of the Tsar to Paris (Oct.). 

1897. The Dreyfus struggle; Treaty 

with Germany as to Togo 
(July 23) ; visit of President 
Faure to Kronstadt (Aug.). 

1898. Trial of Esterhazy (Jan.); France 

obtains concessions in China 
(April 10) ; Treaty with 
England as to Gold Coast and 
Nigeria (June 14) ; Ministry 
of Brisson, Delcass6 at 
Foreign Office (June 15) ; 
orders for rehearing the Drey- 
fus case (Aug.) ; Second 
Ministry of Dupuy (Nov. 1) ; 
withdrawal of Marchand from 
Fashoda (Nov. 4). 

1899. Death of Faure (Feb. 16) ; 

Loubet President of the Re- 
public (Feb. 16) ; Ministry 
of Waldeck-Rousseau (June 
22) ; Second trial of Dreyfus 
(Aug.) ; consolidation of West 
African Colonies (Oct. 17). 

1900. Dreyfus pardoned (June 13) ; 

Franco-Spanish agreement as 
to Rio d'Oro and Rio Muni 
(Juno 27) ; Workshops Act 
(Dec. 29). 

1901. Labour Councils established 

(Jan. 2) ; Moroccan Agree- 
ment (June 1) ; Law of 
Separation (July 1) ; visit of 
the Tsar to France (Sept.). 

1902. Ministry of Combes (June 31). 

1903. Religious Associations dissolved 

(Mar. 1) ; visit of Edward VII 
to Paris (May 1) ; dissolution 
of teaching orders (July 5) ; 
Franco - British Arbitration 
Treaty (Oct.). 

1904. Visit of President Loubet to 

Rome (April) ; recall of 
French Ambassador to the 
Vatican (May 21) ; Franco- 
Spanish Agreement (Oct.). 

1905. Ministry of Rouvier (Jan. 21) ; 

visit of the German Emperor 
to Tangier (Mar.) ; the Andre 
Military Law (Mar. 17) ; 
resignation of Delcass6 
(June 5) ; agreement with 
Germany (July 8) ; Law of 
Separation (Dec. 9). 

1906. Conference of Algeciras (Jan. 16); 

Fallieres President of the 
Republic (Feb. 18) ; Ministry 
of Sarrien (Mar. 7) ; final 
Act of Algeciras (April 7) ; 



Cour de Cassation quashes 
verdict of Dreyfus Court- 
martial ; Dreyfus and Pic- 
quart reinstated (July 12) ; 
Treaty with England as to 
Siam (Oct. 20) ; Ministry of 
Clemenceau (Oct. 25). 

1907. Franco-Japanese Treaty (June 


1908. Franco-German Agreement as 

to the Cameroons (April). 
1909.' Guarantee of independence and 
integrity of Morocco (Feb. 6) ; 
Ministry of Briand (July 25). 

1911. Ministry of Monis (Feb. 27) ; 

French Expedition de- 
spatched to Fez (May 21) ; 
Ministry of Caillaux (June) ; 
The Agadir Crisis (July 1) ; 
Franco-German Treaty as to 
Morocco and the Cameroona 
(Nov. 4). 

1912. Ministry of Poincare (Jan. 13) ; 

Sultan of Morocco accepts 
French Protectorate (Mar. 12) ; 
visit of Poincare to Russia 

1913. Poincar6 President of the Re- 

public (Jan. 18) ; Ministry 
of Briand (Jan. 21) ; Ministry 
of Barthou (Mar. 20) ; Three 
Years' Service Law (July 
9) ; Ministry of Doumergue 
(Dec. 2). 

1914. Ministry of Ribot (June 9) ; 

Ministry of Viviani (June 12) ; 
visit of Poincare and Viviani 
to Russia (July 17-29) ; Diplo- 
matic negotiations re war 
(July 24-31) ; French mobi- 
lisation ordered (Aug. 1) ; 
German troops enter France 
(Aug. 2) ; Germany declares 
War (Aug. 3) ; retreat from 
Sambre-Meuse line begins 
(Aug. 23) ; Battle of the 
Marne (Sept. 6-10) ; of the 
Aisne (Sept. 14-28) ; of Al- 
bert (Sept. 25-29) ; Arras 
(Oct. 1, 2) ; Flanders (Oct. 12 
to Nov. 20). 

1915. Second battle of Ypres (April 22 

to May 24) ; Dardanelles 
(April 9 to Dec.); expedition 
to Macedonia (Sept. 21- 
Dec.) ; Allies attack in Cham- 
pagne and Artois (Sept. 25- 

1916. Violent German attack on Ver- 

dun (Feb. 21-Aug.) ; Allied 
attack on the Somme (July 1- 
Nov. 19) ; Ministry of Briand 
(Dec. 11). 

1917. Second battle of the Aisne : 

French failure (April 16, etc.); 
Allied attack in Flanders 
(July 31 -Dec.); Treason 
troubles (Sept.) ; Ministry of 
Clemenceau (Nov. 15). 

1918. Great German offensive (Mar. 21- 

April 29) ; Bonnet Rouge 
trial (April 29-May 25) ; 
third battle of the Aisne 
(May 27-June 2) ; Germans 
reach the Marne (May 30), 
and are driven back (June) ; 
second battle of the Marne 
(July 15- Aug. 4) ; second 
battle of Amiens (Aug. 8- 
12) ; general Allied advance 
(Aug. to Nov.) ; armistice 
(Nov. 11). 

1919. Peace Conference sits (Jan. 18- 

June 28) ; Peace Treaty 
signed (June 28) ; ratified by 
President (Oct. 13). 

1920. Deschanel elected President 

(Jan. 17) ; Clemenceau re- 
tires, succeeded by Mille- 
rand (Jan.) ; Deschanel re- 
tires, Millerand President 
(Sept. 23) ; Ministry of 

1921. Ministry of Briand (Jan.) ; 

troubles with Allies over Ger- 
man reparations (summer and 
autumn) ; Washington Con- 
ference (Nov.). 

1922. Conferences at Cannes (Jan.) and 

Genoa (April-May) ; Ministry 
of Poincar6 ; troubles in Near 
and Middle East (autumn). 





IN estimating the resources* and economic situation of France it is 
necessary above all things to clear one's mind of the tendency to 
compare together two nations, so close in a geographical, and yet so 
wide apart in an economic, sense as are France and Great Britain. 
France is, broadly, a self-supporting country : Great Britain is 
dependent, above all things in the matter of food, on her merchant 
navy and the high seas ; France is in the main agricultural, Great 
Britain industrial ; France exports little but " luxuries," Great 
Britain's foreign trade-exports consist (with the exception of coal) 
almost entirely of manufactured goods ; whilst, as regards the 
import of raw material, France absorbs it for her own consumption, 
whilst Great Britain very largely manufactures it into goods and 
exports it again abroad. Foreign trade, therefore, on the whole, 
means much less to France than it does to us ; and she is much less 
concerned with the movements of commerce overseas than she is with 
her own internal production and consumption. 


When we come to examine the resources of France, we find that her 
economic power depends above all on agriculture, which before the 
war had succeeded in supplying the bulk of the food-stuffs required 
within the country, in producing the raw materials for important 
branches of manufacture, and in exporting products the fine quality 
of which was due to the excellence of the climate and the attention 
devoted to them by the growers. 

Under this heading is included the great production of wine in 
which France occupies so pre-eminent a position and of beet-sugar ; 

* NOTE : [In the following pages many of the larger amounts have been 
reduced to the English equivalent. It must be remembered that : 

1 million francs = normally 40,000. 

1 milliard francs = normally 40,000,000. 

1 kilogramme = 2-205 Ib. 

1 quintal m6trique (100 kilos) = 220-5 Ib. ; i.e. about 10quintaux( = 1,000 kilos) 
go to the English ton. 

1 litre = 0-88 quart ; 1 hectolitre =* (about) 22 gallons or 2| bushels. 

8 kilometres = (about) 5 miles. 

1 hectare = (about) 2 acres.] 



whilst forests, vegetables, flowers, cattle, leather and silk, as well as 
fisheries, all add a not unimportant quota to the wealth of the country. 

The next most important source of production is that of the mines 
and quarries, which furnish large quantities of coal, stone and iron, 
in addition to a few other metals, such as zinc and aluminium ; 
and in the exploitation and working of these must be reckoned the 
valuable water-power of the country, which is being rapidly 

The chief industries include the construction of machinery, iron 
and steel goods, motor-cars, chemicals and textiles on a large scale ; 
whilst the manufacture of numerous other articles on a scientific and 
artistic basis gives employment to many thousands of hands and 
forms a large proportion of the goods exported from the country. 

Nor must we forget the first-rate system of French roads, which 
may be termed the best and most compact one in the world : the 
railways, mostly run by the State, the navigable waterways, the 
ports and the mercantile marine all of which, in addition to the air 
service, guarantee the rapid communications necessary to the develop- 
ment of a great country. 


The land of France has undoubtedly suffered very seriously from 
the ! war. That part of French territory which was the best cultivated 
and the richest in mines and factories became the main battle-field 
of the world, and owing to this fact has been subject to devastations 
the cost of which may be estimated at more than 4,000 million . 
Hundreds of villages have been swept out of existence, many of the 
towns in the war-zone have been irretrievably damaged, the ground 
mangled and the woods and orchards levelled by the hurricanes of 
artillery bombardment ; the countryside has been filled with miles 
of tangled and rusty barbed wire, with unexploded shells, iron and 
wooden debris, the ruins of trenches, and in short the terrible lumber 
of a battle-field which has been the scene of a murderous conflict 
lasting for more than four years. Mines have been blown in and 
destroyed, their valuable machinery wrecked or carried away, whole 
mining-villages razed to the ground and all the complicated 
mechanism of industrial districts, factories, communications, every- 
thing, ruthlessly destroyed. 

But it must not be forgotten that, whilst France has suffered 
intensely as regards her agriculture, industries and mines in a portion 
of her richest territory, the war-zone itself extends over but a very 
small proportion of the whole country. The rich wine -growing 
districts of the east, south and south-west, the silks of the Rhone 
valley, the cider and vegetables of Normandy and Brittany, the corn- 
fields of the Loire, the great ports of Marseille, Toulon, Saint Nazaire, 
Bordeaux and the rest, the fisheries of the three seas, as well as the 
normal agricultural production of the remainder of the country all 


these were mainly affected by the war only in so far as the dislocation 
of trade and man -power was concerned. No great towns or centres of 
industry have been destroyed, with the exception of the above-ground 
works of the coalfields of the north-east : and these are rapidly 
reviving for the coal is still there. Some fourteen -fifteenths of 
France are still untouched, and responding to the energy and industry 
of their inhabitants; whilst the "devastated regions" are being 
brought into order again, rebuilt, repopulated and re-created with 
a speed that is truly marvellous and representative of all that is best 
in the French character. 1 

Whilst, therefore, France is inclined to point pityingly to her 
recent severe wounds and to claim the sympathy of the entire world 
for her heavy losses in the war, while pleading poverty among the 
nations of Europe, we see that the wonderful recuperative power of 
her people is rapidly bringing her back to a state of comparative 
prosperity. The finances of her Government as will be explained 
in the next chapter are, it is true, in an unstable condition, and 
her exchange is, at the moment of writing, in a parlous state : but the 
wealth of the country is still there ; the people are individually well 
off ; taxes are light ; there is practically no unemployment ; and as 
long as the peasant and the artisan continue their characteristic 
habits of thrift, and lay by in their stockings every sou that can be 
spared, there need be no anxiety about the economic future of the 

We will now consider the production in somewhat greater detail. 


In the schedule of National Revenue drawn up in 1912 agriculture 
took the first place, with landed property estimated at 8,200 
million . For the development of this property the owners had at 
their disposal working capital to the amount of 800 million . The 
annual value of the raw produce was estimated at 800 million ; that 
is, 560 million for vegetable and 240 million for animal produce. 

Cereals formed the most important crop, with a yield of nearly 
160 million ; then came the fodder crops, 132 million ; wine, 
48 million ; potatoes, 40 million . This mass of produce was 
almost entirely devoted to national consumption, since exports 
scarcely reached a total of 40 million , As regards at least the 

1 [Recent figures from the French Ministry of Finance show that, whatever be 
the state of the Treasury, the people are not by any means suffering from a want 
of money. Even when taking into account the high wholesale-price index- 
number (345 for France), the wealth per inhabitant comes to well over 6,500 
francs, only about 5 per cent, less than that of the average Englishman whilst 
over 3,000 Frenchmen are the possessors of 15 million francs or more. Com- 
parative figures may perhaps be misleading, but it may be of value all the 
same to point out that whilst the British National Debt has since the war been 
multiplied by six, that of France has been not quite trebled ; and that whilst the 
taxation in England (corrected by index values) comes to 12 per head, in France 
it is not quite 5 . ED.] 



essential products France had very nearly realised the ideal of a 
protectionist policy to be self-supporting ; for purposes of exporta- 
tion she reserved her more delicate products, " vintage " wines, 
brandies, fruits and early vegetables. 

The material damages to agriculture in the invaded regions have 
been estimated by M. Louis Dubois, President of the Inter-Allied 
Reparations Commission, at 800 million , but far more important 
are the injuries inflicted upon the agricultural production of the whole 
of France by the consequences of a war extending over more than 
four years. Owing to the shortage of both labour and manure, the 
soil itself has suffered and can only recover its vitality as the result 
of strenuous exertions. Out of eight million men mobilised in 
succession, the rural classes supplied five million soldiers, and it may 
be said that they have to deplore the loss of one-fifth of this number. 
For more than four years the laborious task of the cultivation of the 
land has been in the hands of old men, women and children. The 
land, formerly fertilised annually by three million tons of chemical 
manure, has during this period had no more than two hundred and 
fifty thousand tons. Not only was the soil impoverished, but millions 
of hectares remained uncultivated. In 1918 the number of acres of 
arable land under tillage amounted to just over 52 millions, as 
against 59 millions in 1913. On the other hand the area of moorland 
and uncultivated land increased from 9| million to nearly 14 million 

The lamentable state of affairs brought about by the war is made 
clear by statistics which show at the same time 'a considerable deficit 
in production, a serious increase in imports and an alarming decrease 
in exports. 

Below we give a table showing the fall in production within a 
period of five years : 









Rye . 



















Beets for distilling 








Alcohol . . .. 



In order to cover this enormous deficit France has been obliged 
to a great extent to have recourse to foreign countries, and to de- 
preciate her exchange. As regards the mass of food-stuffs from 1912 


to 1919, imports increased in amount from 46 to 70 million quintals, 
and in value from 1,817,579,000 to 8,629,461,000 francs. 

Whilst imports were increased in value more than fourfold, exports 
were reduced by half. From 1913 to 1918 the export of food -stuffs fell 
from 1J to J million tons, and in value from 838 million to 419 
million francs. 

Thus much for the appalling effects of the war. But the recupera- 
tion was equally marvellous : for the exports of food -stuffs in 1919 
amounted already to 1,200 millions of francs, and by 1921 had more 
than doubled themselves in material, though, owing to the fall in 
prices, not in value. 

As will be seen by the above table, wheat forms the most important 
cereal produced. By means of protective measures (customs 
barriers) against wheat obtained at a low price from the virgin soil 
of America, and by the increase of home production, the country 
has been enabled more and more to increase the supply of its own 
requirements without having recourse to foreign lands. This 
economic independence was almost realised upon the eve of war ; 
for at that period, with an average annual production of nearly 
9 million tons, the country consumed barely a quarter of a million 
tons more. The average yield came to nearly 14 quintals per 
hectare (20 bushels per acre) ; but although this amount compares 
unfavourably with Germany (20 quintals) or Denmark (30), some 
departments, such as the Oise (24) and Seine -et-Marne (20), produced 
much more. Though the price of bread rose during the war from 
2d. to 6jd. per lb., production was largely increased immediately 
afterwards, and by 1922 it was practically equal to the pre-war 
figure. Wheat -growing has regained its position as a leading branch 
of national agriculture, and with a yield increased by modern methods 
of cultivation it may be enabled not only to provide for all home re- 
quirements but also to contribute to the supply of the neighbouring 
great industrial States. 

Rye has for some time steadily been giving way to wheat, and the 
production is now not sufficient for home consumption ; formerly 
Germany and Russia used to supply the deficit. Oats and barley are 
rapidly recovering their former importance, but maize, buckwheat and 
millet are falling off in production and are likely to be replaced by 
more valuable crops. 

Before the war potatoes were grown annually to the extent of 13 
million tons (about 3J tons per acre) ; and the present production 
is rapidly reaching that figure. As regards vegetables and fruits 
Brittany specialises in the former for export, and Provence and 
Roussillon in the latter, between 20,000 and 24,000 tons of each being 
despatched in the year to England alone, Provence also cultivates 
flowers to an amazing extent, a large proportion being absorbed in 
the manufacture of scents ; before the war the value amounted 
annually to about a million , and it has now again almost; attained 
that figure. 


The forests of France are, however, not so flourishing as before the 
war. Nearly one -fifth of the country was then under timber, but well 
over a million acres of it were destroyed in the war, and the urgent 
necessity for building houses, etc., has caused an immense amount of 
felling which it will take some time to replace. Meanwhile the 
colonies of West Africa and French Congo are supplying valuable 
material in the shape of woods of all kinds notably for the 
manufacture of railway-sleepers. 

Sugar-beet lost heavily in the war. Owing to modern methods of 
extraction the quantity of sugar obtained from the roots rose to 
12 per cent, in the years before 1914 ; but unfortunately the depart- 
ments chiefly concerned with this crop : the Aisne 14 million quintals, 
the Pas de Calais 11 millions, the Somme 10 millions, the Oise 6 
millions that is, 41 out of 60 suffered most severely from the 
continuous fighting which laid waste the soil for four years. Thus 
this crop, which makes great demands upon both labour and manure, 
will be slow in recovering its former prosperity, though it reached 
24 million quintals in 1920. Sugar-beet for distillery, being localised 
about the same regions, also suffered severely. Flax, hemp and 
hops are decreasing in extent ; but tobacco, grown chiefly in the 
Dordogne, Lot-et-Garonne and Gironde, is doing well, with an 
output of some 18,000 tons a year. 

With her temperate climate in the north, and ranging through 
warmer latitudes to the sun -blest lands in the south, France is par 
excellence the country for the production of wines, spirits and alcohols 
of every degree. The orchards of Normandy and Brittany vary 
considerably in the production of cider according to the apple 
harvest and are controlled to a surprising extent in their output by 
the weather : e.g. they produced nearly 80 million hectolitres in 
1917 and only ij millions in the following year ; but whatever the 
harvest, the cider is consumed in the country, and practically none is 
exported. Wine, on the other hand, from the northerly fields of 
Champagne and Burgundy to the rich southern lands of the Bordelais, 
Garonne, Aude, and Provence, forms the normal drink of the country 
and is, besides, exported abroad in huge quantities. In 1875 the 
output from 6J million acres was at its greatest, amounting to over 
83 million hectolitres (1,800 million gallons) ; but the crisis caused by 
the phylloxera in the last twenty years of the last century was a terrible 
blow to the cultivation of the vine. Thanks, however, to the labour 
of scientists and the energy of the growers, this particular branch of 
agriculture was largely reconstituted, and by 1913 the production 
had again risen to about 53 million hectolitres, culled from 4J million 
acres. The present produce (1,300 million gallons) amounts to 
about the pre-war figure, whilst the value of wine exported in 1920 
reached to over 531 million francs (28 million gallons), of which Great 
Britain was the consumer of a large proportion. Since, however, the 
North American and Russian markets are now practically closed to 
French wines, it is not likely that the export will increase to any 


extent. Brandies, of which England, consuming 260,006 gallons a 
year, is France's best customer, are chiefly produced in the Cognac 
and Gers districts of Charente ; whilst liqueurs have a large sale, and 
alcohol and other spirits are distilled from beetroot, molasses and wine- 
lees in Burgundy and the north-easterly departments of the Nord, 
Pas de Calais and Somme ; these are also the regions where beer 
is chiefly produced. 

Under the heading of agriculture, too, comes the question of live- 
stock and their products. 1913 was the highwater-mark of the 
breeding industry, with about 15 million cattle and 16 million sheep 
in the country ; but the war played havoc with the numbers, and in 
1922 the herds were still very sensibly decreased, whilst the increase 
of meat -eating among the working-classes and peasantry had caused 
a large rise in the import of fresh and frozen meat. France is also a 
large producer of butter and cheese, much of the latter commodity 
being exported ; but the Southerners appear to be changing their 
tastes, and consume large quantities of butter in place of the previous 
oils and fats, with the result that little butter now leaves the country. 

As regards food industries, though there are some 20,000 small 
water- or wind -mills dotted about the land, most of the flour supply 
comes from the big cylinder-mills of Marseille, Meaux and Corbeil, 
whilst the biscuit industry is in the hands of a dozen or so firms in 
Paris, Nantes, Bordeaux, Dijon and Nimes. Sugar, chocolate, jam, 
Italian pastes and confectionery are recovering their pre-war position 
in production and export, whilst the olive-oil and tinned foods in- 
dustries have never been seriously threatened. The latter include 
large quantities of sardines and other fish, whilst the valuable 
fisheries include not only cod from Iceland and Newfoundland, but 
herrings and mackerel from the Channel, sardines and tunny from 
Brittany and the Mediterranean ports, and other fish and oysters to 
the amount of some 70 millions of francs. 


In spite of the grievous toll levied by the war upon the rural 
population and the temporary decrease in the fertility of the soil 
during the period of hostilities, French agriculture has passed tri- 
umphantly through the prolonged and formidable crisis in which 
its energies have been strengthened. It was possessed of latent 
forces which enabled it to emerge victorious from this trial and to 
encounter successfully the economic contests following upon those 
of warfare. Doubtless these forces consisted, first of all, in the 
fecundity of the women and the labour of the men, but their full 
value is developed only as a result of the system of ownership : the 
productivity of the land increases in proportion to the free and indi- 
vidual tenure of the soil. 

Whilst in industry we note a progressive concentration, and find 
the artisan transferred to the factory and so dispossessed of the 


instruments of his labour, French agriculture is subject to special 
laws : property of moderate superficial area, sufficient to ensure a 
rational system of cultivation, develops to the prejudice of the large 
or the very small farm. Moreover the owner and the cultivator or 
worker on the soil are gradually ceasing to be two distinct persons ; 
the worker on the land becomes its owner. Thus is formed a peasant 
democracy, economically independent, and a powerful factor in 
favour of social stability. In Europe, thrown out of balance as it 
is by the abnormal increase of the industrial proletariat, agricultural 
France forms the rampart behind which traditional civilisation 
will continue its beneficent course of evolution and progress. 

In contrast to the mass of workers concentrated in the towns 
of Belgium, England and Germany, nearly 60 per cent, of the popu- 
lation of France are passionately attached to the soil, from which 
they derive, in addition to their food, their physical and moral 
strength. Amongst this rural class, which includes 23 million men, 
the preponderating section is that of land -owners who cultivate 
their own property. Eighteen million hectares (45 million acres) 
are worked by 5 million heads of families. In 1913 there were 
still 350,000 metayers l cultivating 3,500,000 hectares and 1 million 
farmers developing 12 million hectares. The next census will 
certainly show the results of a peaceful revolution, comparable to 
that of 1789-99, which created 500,000 new buildings taken from 
the property of the nobility and clergy ; at the present time we may 
certainly state that several hundreds of thousands of farmers and 
metayers have become owners. 

During the course of the war the position of the cultivator of the 
soil was strengthened and improved at the expense of the owner. 
The enormous increase in the value of agricultural produce not only 
cleared from debt the holdings burdened with mortgages, but was 
also the cause of a very great number of transactions in connection 
with landed property, tending to establish the independence of hold- 
ings which had been subject to the payment of ground-rent to the 
owner of the soil. 

This redistribution of landed property has specially strengthened 
the class of owners whose property is of moderate extent, since it 
has worked to the prejudice of large estates worked by farmers, 
and the very small holder had not at his disposal the capital required 
for purchase. Already between 1890 and 1910 large holdings had 
decreased by 2,309,144 hectares, to the advantage of those of medium 
and small extent. As regards the last, the equal division of inherited 
land had led to excessive subdivision or rural holdings, the disad- 
vantages of which will be obviated by a system of regrouping 
facilitated by law. 

The number of rural workers, whether resident or day-labourers, 
living upon the sale of their labour was gradually diminishing : 
3,500,000 in 1880, 3 million in 1900. The war will have hastened 

1 Small farmers, working on the system of dividing profits with their labourers. 


the disappearance of the wage-earner. The intermittent nature of 
rural labour, dependent upon season and climate, will allow of the 
movement of large numbers of workers, organised by the Agricultural 
Labour Office. 

Thus the peasant proprietor, living by and upon his land, has 
emerged victorious from the greatest storm in history; and whilst 
he was risking his life to win the war, the labour of his family, who 
remained upon the land that he was defending, prepared for him the 
means of equal success in time of peace. He is in a fair way to gain 
his independence ; but, dominated by the conditions of international 
markets, which have forced agriculturists to adopt industrial and 
commercial methods, he will have to give up his plan of isolated work, 
form syndicates and co-operative societies, and replace small and 
scattered efforts by a co-ordinated and methodical system, which will 
yield tenfold results. He will not fully realise his hereditary ideal 
of being his own master unless he makes use of the independence 
so dearly bought, for the purpose of taking part deliberately in the 
complex system founded upon community of interests, both national 
and international. 


Before the war French manufactured goods were heavily handi- 
capped in appearing on the world-market for the average cost of 
coal in France was some 40 per cent, more than in England, and 
20 per cent, more than in Germany. It is too soon to gauge the 
effect that the French occupation of the Ruhr and of the Saar coal- 
fields will have on the augmentation of her industry : but meanwhile 
attention may be called to the development of her water-power and 
her increasing use of liquid fuels. 

Regarding the former, France has fortunately the best supply in 
Europe of waterfalls available for industrial purposes. Her water- 
power is estimated at 8 million h.p., half of which comes from the 
Alps and the other half from the Pyrenees and the central mountain- 
ranges. By the end of the war nearly Ij million h.p. were in 
operation, and 2 million more are shortly expected to be available. 
This motive-power corresponds to a saving of some 10 million tons 
of coal, and is devoted mainly to the transmission of power, lighting 
and the electrification of railways. As regards liquid fuel, the 
adoption of internal-combustion engines on a large scale has very 
greatly increased the consumption of petroleum and petrol : this 
indeed was quadrupled between 1913 and 1919, and it is still in creasing 
(nearly 300 million gallons imported in 1920, worth 540 million 
francs). The national carburant of France is, however, alcohol ; 
and it is expected that within a short period this will to a great extent 
be substituted for petrol. 

F 18 



Before the war France produced only about 40 million tons 
annually to meet her consumption of 62 millions the difference 
coming from England (12 millions), Germany and Belgium. Nearly 
three-quarters of the French coal came from the mines of the Nord 
and the Pas de Calais ; and with most of these in possession of the 
enemy the supply fell to an alarming extent. England kept up a 
supply of 18 millions during the war, and the local production was 
by strenuous efforts brought up to 29 millions in the last year ; but 
the systematic destruction carried out by the Germans has ruined the 
Northern fields to such an extent that it will be another ten years 
before they can produce as before, Meanwhile the contribution from 
the Saar is not likely to exceed 9J millions a year. The coal industry 
is therefore passing through a difficult period, and is not much 
relieved by the import of only some 15 J millions (of which only 6| 
from England and 6 from Germany in 1921) from abroad, and by 
French efforts to develop inferior beds of coal, lignite and peat 
within the country. Much is of course expected from the occupation 
of the Ruhr : but it is too soon to prophesy, and statistics are not yet 


It was only at the beginning of this century that France began to 
develop her iron. After the United States with 62 million tons and 
Germany with 27 millions, France with 22 million tons stood third in 
1913 amongst the principal countries producing iron ore. The Treaty 
of Versailles, by transferring to France the 21 million tons obtained 
from the annexed district of Lorraine, gave her the first place in 

When the situation has become normal France will produce 43 
million tons, without taking into account the mining districts of 
Normandy and Anjou, which are capable of extensive development. 
As her consumption will scarcely exceed 25 millions, this will leave 
a surplus of 18 million tons, which will easily be taken up by Germany 
and England. But the advantages resulting from the Peace Treaty 
will only gradually become effective : for the moment, France is still 
engaged in repairing the ravages of war. 

Nine -tenths of the ore was produced from the district of Briey, in 
the invaded area ; and consequently during the war very little indeed 
was forthcoming. Even now Briey, though recovering, only yields 
1J million tons ; but the reannexed district of Lorraine supplies 
over 7 millions, and the remainder of France makes up the production 
to over 14, whilst a third of that amount is, in addition, imported from 

The production of cast iron rose rapidly in the first decade of this 
century, its main centre being of course the department of Meurthe 
et Moselle. But at no time did it reach a supply equal to the 


demand, and barely 3 J million tons are now produced, more than half 
of which comes from the Saar. Electric furnaces are now being 
employed in the process. On the other hand, the supply of steel 
before the war (over 5 millions in 1913) exceeded the demand ; two- 
thirds were obtained by the Thomas process, used especially in the 
east and north, whilst the Martin process, used especially in the 
centre, provided the remainder. Owing to the enemy's devastations 
only 3 millions are now produced, over a third of which comes from 
the Saar. 

For copper and lead France looks to the United States and North 
Africa respectively, whilst tin she imports from Bolivia, Great Britain 
and Indo-China. Of zinc she produces a little, and is chiefly supplied 
by her colonies of Tongking, Tunisia and Algeria. But with 
aluminium, or rather bauxite (the ore) she is well furnished, and before 
the war produced 310,000 tons, almost all of which was found in the 
southerly department of the Var. The war, however, changed the 
position of France as the main source of the world -supply of this 
metal, and the progress made by the United States, Canada and 
Norway has for the moment left her in the rear. In the same way, 
though her distant colony of New Caledonia produced immense stores 
of nickel ore before the war, she has fallen far behindhand in the 
supply of this metal. As regards antimony, she is, next to China, the 
greatest producer of the ore chiefly from La Vendee and the Haute 
Loire ; but the demand for the metal is not very great, and though 
capable of producing perhaps 15,000 tons a year, she exports but 

Mechanical Construction 

Before the war mechanical construction, on the whole, showed that 
national production was in general very inadequate. But the war, 
involving the installation of an enormous amount of plant, marked 
the opening of a new era of endeavour. The adaptation to ordinary 
manufactures, however, of appliances suitable to the purposes of 
war is not accomplished without great difficulties, and France has 
not yet surmounted all of them. Raw materials are expensive and 
not always to be had, and industry has not yet emerged from the 
difficult period of transition and reorganisation. 

Every confidence may be felt in the prospects ; but for the time 
being the increase of imports makes it clear that the crisis of adapta- 
tion has not yet come to an end. The imports of every kind of 
machinery, for example, including locomotives, agricultural imple- 
ments, metal work of all sorts, sheet iron, etc., amounted in 1919 to 
over five times the value of similar exported articles ; but things are 
improving, for although the proportion of values is now about the 
same, the quantity exported is reaching equality. The increase in 
motor-car construction is one of the most hopeful signs, whilst the 
output of electrical and chemical industries is advancing at a steady 



The chief centres of cotton manufacture the raw material coming 
mostly from the United States are : for spinning the Vosges and 
Meurthe et Moselle, and for weaving the northern towns of Amiens, 
Rouen, Lille, St. Quentin, Roanne, etc., in addition to the above- 
named departments. The outbreak of war, of course, resulted in a 
serious fall in production, but from the time of the Armistice the 
position improved rapidly, the increase being especially marked in 
woven fabrics. A similar improvement was visible in the wool- 
combing factories, which exist chiefly in the Roubaix-Tourcoing 
district, and in the cloth factories at Sedan, Reims, Vienne and 
Elbceuf. French production of wool (35,000 tons) only represents 
one-sixth part of the consumption, most of the foreign article coming 
from Australia and Argentina, as well as from the Cape, Uruguay and 
Central Europe. Now that these countries are open again to French 
trade the woollen industries show a vigorous vitality, which is likely 
to increase considerably in the near future. 

Owing to its geographical situation Lyon (with 82,000 looms) 
being the commercial centre of the manufacture the silk industry 
did not suffer from the ravages of war. It was, however, hampered 
by shortage of labour and of raw material : for the latter is chiefly 
obtained from Japan, France only producing one-tenth (500 tons) 
of the quantity required. In spite of a high rate of output, a 
constantly growing demand has led to the importation of tissues ; 
but exports are rapidly rising, and amounted in 1920 to a value of 
nearly 2 milliards of francs. 

As but little flax and hemp is grown in France and that a de- 
creasing amount the country is dependent for those materials, and 
to a great extent for linen and hempen goods, on imports from 
abroad. The linen industry, which used to employ 570,000 spindles, 
was concentrated especially in the Lille -Armen tier es district and was 
consequently almost annihilated by the war ; but it is recovering. 
The hemp industry was not so seriously affected. Jute is another 
material which is imported entirely from British India. The mills 
were, again, situated in the Nord and Somme departments, and 
consequently suffered heavily from the war. 

Other Industries 

Of other industries, paper-making has fallen on evil days chiefly 
owing to a serious shortage of pulp and rags from abroad, and a 
terrific rise of price in consequence : e.g. in 1920 the production 
of less than half the usual quantity caused the value to be more than 
quadrupled ; and there are but few signs of improvement visible 
since then. Recourse is now being had to broom and, in the colonies, 
to alfa grass, bamboo, sorghum, etc., as substitutes for paper-making 


but the supply is not yet very large. The leather and rubber trades, 
on the other hand, are doing well, and the plate-glass industry, which 
formerly supplied 57 per cent, of the material used in Europe, is 
slowly recovering ; the glass and china trade is, however, on the whole 
not very prosperous. But in industries connected with art and luxury 
the French are of course pre-eminent, the articles produced in the 
way of fashions, needlework, furs, perfumery, jewellery and gold- and 
silver-smiths' work being in great request all over the world. Much 
loss was caused to France by the high duties imposed by many States 
on " fancy " goods and articles of luxury during and since the war ; 
but an improvement in this direction is now being anticipated. 

Development and Organisation 

In one way the War has been of immense service to French 
industry. French pre-war manufacturing methods were in general 
a long way behind the times ; but the necessity for the supply of 
first-rate munitions of every kind and the energetic spirit evolved 
under the stress of war gave an immense impetus to industry, and 
caused the installation of modern and up-to-date machinery and 
methods which not only enabled vast quantities of munitions to be 
turned out during the war but have acted in a most beneficial manner 
ever since that period. 

An important feature in French industries during the war was that 
of organisation. The scientist and the manufacturer began to col- 
laborate ; under the influence of the Minister of Commerce 
laboratories and technical institutes were established. Finally, and 
this is a real sign of the times, a new section was opened in the 
Academy of Science that of science applied to industry. The fac- 
tories began to study the question of maximum output in minimum of 
time, and many improvements were introduced. But the methodical 
organisation of labour depends upon uniformity of types, that is 
upon standardisation, which alone permits of serial construction and 
specialisation. For this purpose the Minister of Commerce appointed 
in 1917 the Permanent Commission on Standardisation. The 
labours of this Commission have already yielded very satisfactory 

Technical unions were also requested by the Minister of Commerce 
to form groups in accordance with their affinities, and did so, forming a 
federation of twenty -one groups. These were to co-operate with the 
Government in co-ordinating their efforts with a view to combined 
action in markets either national or foreign. Besides this, the Minister 
of Commerce advocated and has succeeded in putting into force a 
system of economic localisation which invigorates productive forces 
connected by their geographical situation and by natural affinity. 
The federation of local institutions will, therefore, show the nation 
in working order ; and with the assistance of the (143) Chambers of 
Commerce great results are expected. 



It is of interest to note, as bearing out our statement on p. 265, 
that in 1919 the value of international commerce in France was not 
quite 40 milliards of francs, whilst internal commerce amounted 
to over 400 milliards. It is, however, foreign trade which shows how 
far the country is able to supply its own needs : and it is towards 
this that we shall direct our remaining remarks. 

Foreign trade is regulated by the Customs system ; since 1892 
the French scale of duties, which has developed in a direction com- 
mon to all the States of Europe excepting England and Holland, 
has assumed a definitely protectionist character. 

The law of January 11, 1892 established a double tariff a maxi- 
mum scale, applicable to the majority of foreign countries, and a 
minimum sufficiently protectionist in amount granted by agree- 
ment for a limited period to those countries which allow equivalent 
preference to French goods. There is an average difference of 50 per 
cent, between the general and the minimum scale. 

By successive agreements the advantage of the minimum scale 
was extended for the whole of their consignments to thirty- 
one States, including all European countries. Those remaining 
entirely subject to the general scale were only : Australia, Bolivia, 
Chile, Guatemala and Peru. A third set of States had obtained 
the advantage of the minimum scale only in respect of certain 
specialities, e.g. China, for pure silk goods ; or for a large group 
of products, as in the case of Canada and the United States of 
America. The system was slightly modified in 1910, but the war 
disclosed certain weak points in it, and the Government is now 
authorised to negotiate intermediate rates between the two scales. 

Further, on April 23, 1918 the French Government, in full agree- 
ment with the countries of the " Entente," decided upon the denun- 
ciation of commercial agreements which contained general clauses 
referring to the most-favoured nation or to consolidated scales ; that 
is, of all commercial or maritime treaties of such a nature as to impede 
the application of the new commercial regulations under which France 
intends to proceed. A year's notice had to be given, and as in 1919 
prices in France had risen to 380 per cent, of the pre-war figure, and 
thus largely nullified the ad valorem rates, the French Government, 
acting on its own initiative, enforced higher rates on certain articles. 
It may be mentioned that Customs dues have brought in a revenue 
rising from 105 millions of francs in 1871 to 779 in 1913 and 1,883 in 
1919 ; 2,706 were estimated for in 1922. 

Before the war, if we take into consideration the difference in the 
numbers of the populations of Great Britain, Germany and the 
United States 46, 70 and 100 millions respectively as against 38 in 
France we may consider as satisfactory an advance which increased 
the value of foreign trade from 5,609 million francs in 1870 to 8,805 in 
1900, 13,406 in 1910 and, lastly, to 15,301 in 1913. 



In 1912 France drew her supplies chiefly from Great Britain, 
representing 1,046 million francs, Germany 999 millions, the United 
States 890, Belgium 540 and Russia 432. Her best customers were, 
in the same year, Great Britain with 1,861 millions, Belgium 1,141 
millions, Germany 821, the United States 431 and Switzerland 405. 
The war, of course, completely upset these figures. Exports were 
reduced from nearly 7 milliards in 1913 to less than 5 in 1918, and 
imports increased from 8 milliards to over 30 in the same years. In 
1921 they nearly balanced, the imports amounting to 23J and the 
exports to 21 J milliards. 

French production has thus given evidence of great energy, which 
has already yielded remarkable results ; and it only remains to give 
a short table (in milliards of francs) of the latest imports for home use 
and exports of home goods with the chief countries in 1920 and 1921 : 







Great Britain 





United States 



















The excellence of the road system in France needs no description ; 
but it may be noted that of the six great railway lines one is under 
State management, the others being privately owned. They give 
employment to over 360,000 persons. Considerable progress has 
been made in electrification and, in addition, the Government is 
" standardising " them by the creation of a common fund, unity of 
management, and provisions for giving the employees an interest in 
the working. 

The navigable waterways do much in tlie way of carrying goods 
(42 million tons in 1913). Few new canals have been cut, but they 
have been improved and deepened to such an extent that between 
1871 and 1913 the traffic quadrupled itself. Paris, Rouen and 
Dunkirk are the chief centres of this traffic ; but besides the facilities 
given by the northerly rivers and canals we must recognise that by 
way of the Rh6ne, the Sa6ne and the Rhine, France connects Marseille 
with Antwerp, Rotterdam and Strasbourg, thus effecting a junction 
between the North Sea and the Mediterranean ; whilst by way of the 


Loire, the Seine and the canals of the east, she unites the Atlantic 
Ocean with Central Europe. 

The five greatest ports of France (in order of importance) are 
Marseille, Rouen, Bordeaux, Dunkirk and Le Havre (and besides 
these there are forty -nine others). Their capacity was strained to the 
utmost during the war ; but it has now reverted to its previous level. 
A very extensive programme of reorganisation and unification has 
been drawn up by the Government ; and it is hoped, by a heavy 
expenditure, to increase their combined capacity to 100 million tons. 

Before the war the French commercial fleet took the fifth place 
in the world. The mercantile marine proved insufficient to meet the 
needs of the country in war-time ; but since the Armistice a great 
effort was made, and by 1920 the tonnage was brought up to nearly 
8 million tons. By the end of 1923 it is expected to reach 5 


In 1914 the economic life of France was normal and healthy ; 
the country showed steady and regular progress, and there was 
general confidence in the strength of her position. The war led 
to disastrous losses, forced national finance to depend upon the 
repeated issue of loans, brought about a general crisis of under- 
production at home, and necessitated purchases abroad which are 
rendered burdensome by the unfavourable rate of exchange. 

Moreover, hardly had France, exhausted by the war, begun to 
enter the convalescent stage, when a new world-crisis arose a 
crisis of over-production by countries whose industries were still 
intact e.g. the United States, Great Britain and Japan. And this 
whilst Russia was still effaced from the international economic map, 
whilst Central Europe was, owing to the depreciation of exchange, 
incapable of paying for its purchases, and whilst Germany was 
actually deriving fresh strength from her refusal to carry out the 
conditions of the Peace ! The development and solution of this 
crisis still depend upon national and international decisions which 
have yet to be taken. 

Meanwhile, whatever may be the results of this crisis, France 
has been preparing by means of orderly labour for her economic and 
financial reconstruction ; the results already obtained, which have 
been recorded in our statement, are reassuring for the future. In 
striving to attain economic recovery she has not waited for the 
reparation due from Germany nor for the assistance which she 
considers she might have expected at critical moments from inter- 
Allied co-operation. In spite of the financial troubles of her Govern- 
ment, she is forging steadily ahead ; and as in the past, so in the 
future will her prosperity depend on the thrift, the business capacity 
and the sturdy energy of her sons. 


(a) PAST 

FRANCE, in finance, as in her history generally, has manifested 
a line of development closely comparable with that of the other 
countries of Western civilisation. Just as the political power 
was centred in the hands of the nobility, to be then concen- 
trated hi the hands of the Crown, to be wrested finally from 
the Crown and vested hi democratically elected assemblies, so 
it has been with the finance of the country. In the Middle Ages 
and even up to so late a period as the reign of Frangois I 
there was no real differentiation between the revenues of the 
State and those of the King, but all the same it is possible to 
trace certain general tendencies. In the tenth, eleventh and 
twelfth centuries, for instance, when the feudal regime was 
passing away, France, like other countries, went through the 
phase in which the people began to attempt to assume a control 
of the moneys paid to the Crown and the principle gained recog- 
nition that the persons paying taxes should vote them. St. 
Louis in the thirteenth century made a definite effort to organ- 
ise accountancy and institute a system whereby the revenues 
should be brought thrice a year to the capital and strictly 
accounted for thrice a year. The Royal domain was placed 
definitely under the control of baillis and seneschaux who were 
the King's agents. Under Philippe le Bel the effort at centrali- 
sation was continued, and a definite official, a sous-intendant, 
was placed in control of the King's finances. In his time (1300) 
there were two distinct treasuries, the Tresor du Temple, where 
current expenditure was liquidated, and the Trisor du Louvre, 
which was responsible for the liquidation of debt and for 
expenditure in connection with war and foreign policy. The 
reign was notable also from the standpoint of finance, for in it 
the practice of borrowing from Jews and Lombard bankers 
came into fashion, a practice that resulted in the centralisation 
of public finance. Under Louis X the separation between the 
two treasuries was abolished, and in 1329 the famous Declara- 
tion of Antwerp was passed whereby the Crown constituted 
itself the principal creditor of all debtors. 

The Hundred Years' War constituted an important epoch 



in the history of French finance. Inevitably a heavy strain 
was placed on the Treasury, and public dissatisfaction was 
voiced freely. " Partout," a chronicler of the period writes, 
" furent exigees tres grandes finances, tres mal dirigees et en 
bourses particulieres comme on dit, et non mises au frais de 
la chose publique." The States-General repeatedly complained, 
and in voting grants again and again insisted on reforms in 
the administration and control of funds. A Chambre de Comptes 
was instituted and given the power of control over the King's 
agents du Tresor. The period was responsible also for the 
development of a system of special subsidies and from the fact 
that as the towns became emancipated from feudalism they 
were frequently called upon to lend direct to the State, the latter 
being a phenomenon that curiously enough was repeated in 
the recent war. 

The reign of Franyois I was responsible for deplorable 
extravagance and for most inefficient control of finance, and 
as a result State credit was pledged in all directions. Sales of 
offices became a current abuse. Loans were issued through 
the Hotel de Ville de Paris, the principle of lottery loans was 
introduced from Italy, and the practice of acquits du comptant 
or borrowing by the Crown on note of hand was inaugurated. 
Despite this however a serious attempt was made better to 
systematise the collection of revenue, and in 1542 the vast army 
of bailiffs and stneschaux, who previously had collected and paid 
into the Treasury the various dues, were replaced by sixteen 
receveurs generaux. Fra^ois' successors paid dearly for his 
extravagance, and when Henri IV came to the throne a compre- 
hensive policy of retrenchment and reform was brought into 
existence by Sully. He reduced the number of officials, can- 
celled many of the wasteful contracts made by his predecessors, 
founded the revenue on economic lines and instituted a real sys- 
tem of accountancy. His reign at the Exchequer was notable 
however chiefly because of the institution by him of a Budget 
system. He arranged that the King in Council should decide in 
advance on the year's expenditure and revenue. The reforms, 
great though they were, were only partially successful, and in 
1614 the States-General placed on record their protest against 
the abuses of the Fermes generaux and demanded the abolition 
of the acquits du comptant. 

The development of autocracy as promoted by Richelieu is 
reflected in finance as elsewhere. It is true that taxes were 
brought before Parliament, but such was Richelieu's power that 
he insisted on fiscal measures being voted without the parliament 


even knowing what they contained. He was determined 
however to prevent abuses, and he instituted a special chamber 
of justice for the punishment of offenders. The reign of Louis 

XIV presents several features of financial interest. With Col- 
bert as his intendant the control of the finances was invested in 
five persons, the King, the intendant and three counsellors. 
Every month there was a definite balancing of accounts, and 
the Budget system was regularised, estimates being passed in 
October and the previous year's Budget being made final 
in January. The financial machine was worked to its full 
capacity. The system of loans, especially of foreign capital, 
was greatly extended, many of the Royal rights were alienated 
for cash, short-term loans were greatly increased, and there was 
a very considerable issue of paper in the form of treasury- 
bills. In order to facilitate borrowing a special caisse des em- 
prunts (abolished in 1715), the predecessor of the savings bank, 
was set up in 1674. Colbert acted as a restraining influence, 
but after his death disorder and extravagance reigned. Money 
was necessary to satisfy the royal appetite and was raised by 
every possible means. Gifts were demanded from the towns, 
the provinces and the clergy. Loans of all sorts were raised, 
and even the money standard was altered. The reign of Louis 

XV saw no improvement. Interest on loans was unpaid, or 
was only paid after long delays. Royal bills were dishonoured, 
and even the troops failed to receive their salaries. 

Then under Philippe d' Orleans came the amazing phenomenon 
of Mr. Law. The South Sea bubble is a child in comparison with 
Law's projects. The Regent had need of money, and Law 
promised to secure it. The Bank of England had been founded 
and was prosperous. Law advocated and established a Banque 
des Depots et d'Escompte. He agreed to accept the depreciated 
Government paper money up to three-fourths of the capital, 
and in 1716 he was given twenty years' privilege for his bank. 
Among the advantages he enjoyed were the fact that his bank- 
notes were valid for the payment of taxes, and the paper issued 
by Law rapidly went to a premium because of the convenience 
of handling as opposed to metal currency, and because of 
the non-fluctuation in value. Law's bank absorbed some 
4J milliard livres of depreciated State paper, and in 1717 he 
was authorised to issue a fresh company for exploiting Louisiana 
and for all sorts of other purposes. Eventually his company 
absorbed practically the whole of the French revenue, and 
he was given the farming-out of tobacco, the right of coining 
and a monopoly in the most varied forms of colonial enterprise. 


State paper was taken as capital, and 200,000 shares were issued 
at 500 each ; at the height of the boom a share was worth 
20,000. Law was undoubtedly one of the most potent causes 
of the French Revolution. He thoroughly demoralised the upper 
classes by encouraging them in violent speculation. In 1721, 
despite the employment of every possible financial artifice, he 
failed ; and his failure ruined hundreds of thousands. 

Turgot as Finance Minister under Louis XVI reattempted 
the Sisyphian task of re-establishing order, but matters had gone 
too far. He succeeded in establishing the principle that Finance 
Ministers should be consulted by other State departments before 
expenditure was engaged. He founded the famous Banque 
d'Escompte. Necker succeeded and, working on a forlorn hope, 
followed ordinary banking methods, forcing the various State 
accountants to give in daily returns. He also showed astonish- 
ing initiative by arranging for the publication in the press of 
the National Budget Sheet. 

In 1789 the crash came. The National Assembly decreed 
the sale of national and church property ; but meanwhile it 
issued paper assignats which had to be accepted by the Treasury 
as payment for real property. In seven years' time over forty- 
five milliards of paper pounds had been issued, and a year later 
these milliards were valueless. 

Napoleon re-established order, and one of his first pre- 
occupations was to place his administration on a proper financial 
basis. One of his ministers was put definitely in charge of the 
Treasury, and he had under him two administrateurs, one of 
whom was responsible for receipts and the other for expenditure. 
Further, the Treasury was divided into six great departments, 
and in 1803 the Banque de France was founded. Speaking 
generally, it may be stated that the present system of French 
finance was established in 1817, when a Finance Minister was 
appointed directly responsible to Parliament ; and from that 
date onward the Finance of France has followed ordinary 
constitutional lines. It has been subjected to two great shocks, 
not to mention many lesser ones, the War of 1870 and the recent 
war. The war of 1870 cost France in cash the payment of five 
milliards of francs. Such however was the wealth held by 
individuals of the country that it rapidly recovered, and the 
strain in the years following '70 was infinitely less than the 
strain under which France, although victorious, is suffering 




The position of France financially at the moment of writing 
(1928) is unquestionably grave, as is shown by the folio whig 
analysis of the situation based on official figures available at the 
beginning of the year : 


Total French Debt on August 1914 . 

Perpetual Internal Debt at that date .... 

Floating Debt ........ 

Debt on account of annuities ..... 

On March 31, 1922 French Debt amomnted to 

In this figure Perpetual and Short-term Debts amount to 

Floating Debt amounts to . 

Debt to Bank of France on March 31, 1922 . 

Foreign Debt at rate of exchange on Feb. 28 more than 

In addition to the 317 milliards there is an item of arrears on 

account of Annuity Debt 
Probable cost of Pensions . 
Other damage to persons . 
Damage to property . 
Or in all . 
Of this total France had paid on German account by March 1921 


Total expenses for 1922 . 

Of which the normal Budget amounts to 

And Budget annexes to . . . 

Alsace-Lorraine Budget .... 

There is a deficit for the first quarter of 1922 of 

A deficit for preceding year (to be covered by a loan) of 

Receipts are estimated at : 

Ordinary receipts . . . . . . . , 

Exceptional resources . . . . . , 

The deficit mainly due to advances made for Germany will 

























The expenditure during the war by France and by the other 
countries can fairly be described as colossal. The official 
figures as reproduced in the Annuaire g&niral de la France et 
de V Etr anger show the appallingly rapid increase caused by the 
War. They are as follows (in thousands of francs) : 

Military expenses 
and exceptional 
war expenses. 


civil expenses. 


1915 . 
1916 . 
1917 . 
1918 . 
1919 . 











They can perhaps be best appreciated by comparing them 
with typical years of French pre-war Budgets, which are as 
follows : 



Exceeding receipts. 

Exceeding expenses. 









































The general financial situation of France to-day can perhaps 
best be appreciated by the following analysis (in francs) com- 
piled from official figures available early in 1922. They do not 
take into account the Budget for 1923, as the figures therein 
contained are only provisional : 



(Excluding money received on loans and 

1914 (Aug. to Dec.) 








1922 (estimated) 
































Add extraordinary re- 
ceipts Aug. 1, 1914 
to Dec. 31, 1919 . 








Bonds in England 

issued in the United States 
,, with the British Treasury. 
with the Bank of England 
,, issued in Japan 
Short -term credit in Spain 
, Sweden 

Anglo-French loan in the United States 
Loan of the " Ville de Paris " 

,, " Villes de Lyon, Bordeaux, et Marseille " 
Advances of the American Treasury 
Loan issued in Japan 
Bonds given for stock to the American Government 






















NOTE. The above figures have been calculated at the pre-war rate of exchange. 

The Budget as presented before the Chamber and the Senate 
in 1921 for the year 1922 was historic and will remain so for many 
years, because the discussions that took place brought out clearly 
the difficulties with which the French Finance Minister has 
been faced. At the moment of writing the similar discussions 
on the 1923 budget have not yet taken place. France, as 
the figures quoted above have shown, depends essentially on 
the payment by Germany of the sums due to her under the 
Versailles Treaty. As a result of the special situation it was 
necessary for a series of different Budgets to be compiled, but 
the most interesting feature of French finance, and a feature 
that will continue to be interesting for many years to come, 
was the special Budget that had to be established to meet 
those expenses that France was forced to incur owing to the 
default of Germany. 

The general French Budget as voted by the Chamber and 
Senate amounted to 25 milliards 756 million francs. The charge 
was a heavy one for a country comprising merely 87 millions 
of inhabitants, whose Budget in 1914 amounted only to 5 
milliards 422 millions, and that since then has seen the richest 
portions of its territory ruined during the war. The increase 
in the general Budget was due mostly to the expenditure on 
account of debt which increased from 1 milliard 306 millions 
in 1914 to 11 milliards 449 millions in 1922. In other words, 

1 Over 29 milliards of francs in 1921, and over 31 in 1922, were borrowed by 
the Government. 

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France is paying to-day more than 10 milliards to meet interest 
on loan, pensions and expenses of reconstruction. Leaving 
aside the expenditure on debt, other expenditure that required 

4 milliards 916 millions in 1914 required an expenditure of 
14 milliards 307 millions : expenditure in fact has more than 
tripled, the co-efficient of increases being 3-47. The fact is 
natural, because the value of money during the period considered 
has at least equally depreciated. 

The increase was by no means uniform in all categories. Thus 
as regards the army and navy, where expenditure in 1914 was 
budgeted at 2 milliards 44 millions, the budget of 1922 was 
estimated at 5 milliards 745 millions, giving a coefficient of 
increase of 2 '8. In the estimates for 1923 this is reduced to 

5 milliards. In view of the peace of Europe it is satisfactory 
to note that the military coefficient is low, but at the same 
time it is regrettable that there is a similarly low coefficient 
of increase for the amounts allocated for relief of all sorts. 
These amounted to 221 millions in 1914 and 509 millions in 
1922. Expenditure devoted to intellectual advancement was 
at the normal rate, as the credits voted increased from 371 
millions in 1914 to 1,306 millions in 1922. 

The great increase in expenditure was in the following 
categories : economic development, that rose from 435 millions 
in 1914 to 1,735 millions in 1922 ; State industries (including 
posts, telegraphs and railways) that increased from 462 millions 
to 1,969 millions ; expenditure affecting French sovereignty, 
that is diplomatic relations, judicature, police, cost of tax- 
collection, etc., that rose from 538 millions to 2 milliards 262 
millions ; various expenditure that rose from 45 to 175 millions ; 
and the Extraordinary Budget for Alsace-Lorraine that 
amounted to 600 millions. The situation can be expressed 
in tabular form as follows : 

Nature of expenditure. 

Credits for 1914 Budget. 

Credits for 1922 Budget. 

Public debt 

1,306 million frs. < 

11,449 million frs. 

Military expenditure . 



Sovereign expenditure 



Economic development 



Industrial development 



Intellectual development 



Relief of all sorts . 



Various . . . 



Alsace-Lorraine . . 


Total . 

5,422 million frs. 

25,756 million frs. 

F 19 


We turn now to the future as dealt with in May 1922 by the 
Finance Minister, M. de Lasteyrie, in introducing the ordinary 
Budget for 1923. The Bill provides for an estimated expendi- 
ture of 23,180,000,000 francs and for an estimated revenue of 
18,060,000,000 francs from normal sources, with additional 
revenue of 1,225,000,000 francs from the liquidation of war stocks 
and the special tax on war- profits. There is thus left outstanding 
a deficit of 3,900,000,000 to be covered by loan ; and this deficit 
in round figures represents the interest on the sums advanced 
by France on German account for Reparations. But for this 
France would be able to claim that her receipts balance ex- 
penditure. It will be noted that considerable economies have 
been effected, notably in the reduction of the personnel, and also 
that income-tax, which it was thought would be very repugnant 
to the French mind, is producing a more than satisfactory yield. 
In 1916, for instance, the tax was estimated to bring in 40,000,000 
francs and actually yielded 51,303,000 ; and in 1921 when the tax 
was expected to produce 800, 000, 000 francs the Treasury recovered 
1,137, 530, 000 francs. In his Budget speech the Minister prophesied 
that this and other taxes, when the public got thoroughly used 
to them, would result in producing still further revenue to the 
State. For the time being it is argued that the full limit of 
taxation has been reached, and that increased revenue is to be 
hoped for mainly by securing a better yield from existing taxes 
through the suppression of fraud and more efficient methods of 
collection. It has to be remembered that the fiscal representa- 
tives of the State, many of whom were mobilised and many 
of whom were killed, have left a gap that it is difficult to fill ; 
and experience has shown that temporary officials are con- 
siderably less efficient than permanent officials. Finally, the 
commercial and industrial crisis has very gravely affected the 
yield of taxation. 

For these and similar reasons the future that is gloomy 
enough at the moment of writing is less gloomy for the year 
1923 and for subsequent years. France has already made 
enormous efforts, as can be realised by studying the present 
yield of her taxation. As regards direct and similar taxation 
the yield advanced from 635 millions in 1914 to 2 milliards 
in 1921, and is budgeted for in 1923 at 2,983,140,260 francs, 
whilst registration dues on sales, death duties, securities, 
advanced from 1 milliard 263 millions to 3 milliards 790 
millions. Taxes on consumption increased from 1,500 
millions to 4 milliards 354 millions. Taxation on business 
turnover a new tax that in 1921 brought in 1,897,457,000 


francs is expected to bring in 2 milliards 500 millions in 

So much has been said in England as to the refusal of France 
to meet taxation that it may be of interest to place on record 
the extent to which taxation has increased on certain staple 
products. The hectolitre of wine that in 1914 paid 1 fr. 50 c., 
to-day pays 59 fr. plus 15 per cent, on its value, with other supple- 
mentary taxes. A consumer who would have bought a bottle 
of wine for 11 fr. before the war would have paid the State 
1J centimes. To-day he pays 2 fr. 50. The tax on sugar has 
been doubled, amounting to-day to 50 fr. per 100 kilos. Before 
the war transport by rail was free of tax. To-day the State 
demands one-eleventh of the cost. Railway passengers pay 
one-fifth of the cost of transport to the State, while first-class 
passengers pay one-third. Coffee, tea, mineral waters, patent 
medicines, matches, tobacco, vinegar, mineral oils, petroleum, 
carriages, motor-cars, entertainments, have all had their dues 
largely increased or have had new dues added. It is the same 
with death duties. To take the case of the only son inheriting 
from his father. If in 1914 he had received 20,000, 100,000 or 
1,000,000 francs he would have paid in 1914 344, 2,190 or 
85,440 francs. To-day he pays 945, 6,624 or 99,734. In 1914 
the possessor of commercial shares that brought in an annual 
revenue of 30 francs paid 2 fr. 70 in taxation. To-day he pays 
6 fr. Since 1916 the income-tax has been in force, and when 
first applied in 1916 was estimated to bring in 40 million francs. 
To-day, having been raised by successive legislation, it is esti- 
mated that a yield of 800 millions will be obtained, or twenty 
times the value in 1916. 

If it were possible to go into detail it could be shown that the 
French Treasury during the war was overburdened by a vast 
number of special charges. Supplies, for instance, to quote one 
special item, registered a loss of over 3 milliards 600 millions, 
railways since 1919 have cost over a milliard and commercial 
shipping over 40 millions a month. The wheat subvention was 
also a heavy burden on France. 

The Budget recouvrabk, as the French term the Budget for 
which the Germans must assume responsibility, is so formidable 
a factor that it is desirable that it should be put on record. 
In the preamble to the Budget Bill for 1923 M. de Lasteyrie 
shows that by December 31, 1922 France had incurred in 
expenditure under this heading an amount totalling 74 milliards 
of francs. 

Everything has been done by the Government to relieve the 


country as far as possible of the expenditure involved, and in 
1919 a special company was formed, known as the Credit 
National, which has as its object to undertake by subscriptions 
from the public the cost of reconstruction. 

In 1919 this organisation issued bonds amounting to 3,960 
million francs, and in the three subsequent years bonds amount- 
ing to 3,880, 2,970 and 4,000 million francs respectively. Other 
organisations have been authorised to come to the aid of the 
devastated areas, with a view of relieving the heavy charges 
incumbent on the Treasury. 

Nothing written on the French financial situation could be 
regarded as at all dealing with the situation without a reference 
to the exchange. France throughout the war enjoyed an ex- 
change that was artificially stabilised at 28 francs to the pound 
sterling, but since then the exchange has shown such violent 
fluctuations that business has been increasingly difficult with 
all countries. Diagrams have been published regularly by the 
Situation Economique et Financiere dealing with the question, 
but the strain has been very serious. At the date of the Treaty 
of Versailles the exchange was 30*95 ; but the conclusion of peace 
produced hardly any effect, and the exchange fell regularly 
until the middle of March 1920, when it touched 67-45. It rose 
to 45-70 in June of the same year, and then fell again to over 
61 in March 1921. In the summer of 1921 it reached 45, but 
since then has been fluctuating, and has recently * fallen again to 
about 67. In view of the growing belief that it will be difficult 
to enforce the payments due from Germany the fear is becoming 
general that there will be a further fall of value of the franc. 

As to the future, speculation is scarcely possible. As an 
immediate factor, everything depends on the payment in full 
by Germany of the debt due to France under the Treaty of 
Versailles. Otherwise the situation is of the utmost gravity. 
If the German debt is paid, France has sufficient vitality to 
reinstate her finances, despite the severe strain to which they 
were subjected. There were moments during the war when 
she was faced with an empty Treasury and when she was 
forced to borrow from her great industrial towns, from the 
manufacturers that were supplying her army and from all and 
sundry. She succeeded however in winning through, and her 
financiers are confident that, provided that peace is maintained 
and that the German moneys are paid, the industry of her 
people and their determination to remain a great Power will 
make it possible for her to re-establish her financial position, 
i December 1922. * 79 on February 1, 1923.- ED. 





THOUGH the future size and organisation of the French Army 
have not been completely determined, it is certain that compulsory 
military service will be retained, and that the Army will, as 
before, be divided into the Metropolitan and the Colonial Army. 
Both are under the War Minister, but the estimates for the 
Colonial troops, other than those in France and in North Africa, 
are contained in the Budget of the Minister for the Colonies. 

Compulsory service will be for 30 years : 1 J years in Active 
Army, 18 J in the Reserve, and 10 in the Territorial Army. 
Annual Contingent about 250,000. 

Voluntary enlistment is encouraged, and is largely applied 
in the recruiting of the native North African troops. 

The strength of the Active (standing) Army in round figures 
is as follows : 

1J Classes 375,000 

Volunteers and re-engaged Frenchmen . 100,000 

Natives of North Africa . . . 100,000 

Natives of the Colonies . . . 100,000 

Foreign Legion ..... 15,000 


The Active Army is organised in Infantry Divisions and 
Cavalry Divisions. In certain cases, such as on the Rhine 
and on the frontier, permanent Army Corps of 2 Infantry 
Divisions are formed. The normal composition of Infantry 
Divisions is 3 Infantry Regiments each of 3 Battalions, 1 Regi- 
ment of Artillery of 8 Batteries 75 mm. guns and 4 Batteries 
155 mm. howitzers. A Cavalry Division consists of 3 Brigades, 
each of 2 Regiments, and a proportion of Armoured Cars, 
Horse Artillery and Cyclists. 

Numbers available in war from all sources amount approxi- 
mately to 4| millions, besides about l million Territorials. 

Uniform : " horizon-blue," except for the Chasseurs (dark 
blue), and the Colonial troops (khaki). 

Rifle : Lebel magazine ; calibre '315. Field-gun 75 mm. ; 
field-howitzer 155 mm. 




For purposes of administration the coasts are divided into 
five Maritime Arrondissements, with headquarters at Cherbourg, 
Brest, Lorient, Rochefort and Toulon, with a vice-admiral 
(Maritime Prefect) at the head of each. 

The Fleet, of two squadrons, is manned by the Armed Reserve ; 
the First Squadron, in the Mediterranean, has six Dreadnoughts, 
and the Second has two divisions, one of three Dreadnoughts 
and the other of three armoured cruisers. This arrangement 
places the whole, except one division, on a reserve basis. 

The Navy is manned partly by conscription and partly by 
voluntary enlistment. The reserve is about 114,000 men, of 
whom about 25,500 serve with the Fleet. The time of service 
in the Navy is at present the same as in the Army. 

The Fleet in 1922 consisted of about : 

17 Battleships, 

27 Cruisers, 

35 Gunboats, 

80 Destroyers, 
100 Torpedo-boats, 
104 Submarines. 


The Census returns of 1921, published in 1922, show the 
present population of France to be 39,209,766. The 1911 
Census gave a population of 39,602,258. The War losses were 
1,400,000 during this period. On the other hand the acquisition 
of Alsace-Lorraine brought an addition of 1,700,000 persons. 
It was calculated that 100,000 should be added for the sailors 
and soldiers serving abroad when the Census was taken. 

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Abyssinia, 161, 154, 168 
Administration, 132, 133, 153, 167, 248 
Agadir, 171 

Agincourt, battle of, 30 
Agricultural property, 271-273 
Agriculture, 233, 265-273 
Algeciras, 163, 164, 165, 168 
Algiers, 89 
Alliance, Grand, 57, 59, 60; Triple, 

63, 70 ; Quadruple, 89 
Alsace, 49, 51, 103, 105, 183, 209 
Alsace-Lorraine, 183, 209, 231, 239 
Anjou, 25, 27, 59 
Annam, 134, 139, 140, 141 
Anti-Semitism, 155 
Aquitaine, 25, 26 
Arc, Joan of, 31 
Army, Reform of, 31, 54; 109, 116, 

135, 144, 147, 158, 163, 173; 

mutinies in, 200, 201 ; of present 

day, 295 
Aumale, Due d', 112, 119 

Bartholomew, Massacre of St., 40, 41 
Barthou, 172, 173 
Battles : 

Agincourt, 30 

Auerstedt, 81 

Austerlitz, 80 

Bautzen, 83 

Blenheim, 60 

Bouvines, 27 

Copenhagen, 77 

Coulmiers, 101 

Crecy, 29 

Dettingen, 63 

Fornovo, 34 

Fleurus, 73 

Great War, 180-210 

Hohenlinden, 77 

Jemmapes, 72 

Jena, 81 

Koniggratz, 96 

Landen, 58 

Leipzig, 79, 84 

Liitzen, 83 

Magenta, 92 

Battles (continued) : 

Maida, 81 

Malplaquet, 61 

Marengo, 77 

Marignano, 35 

Mars la Tour, 100 

Metz, 100 

Navarino, 87 

Novara, 34 

Orleans (1429), 31; (1870), 101 

Oudenarde, 61 

Pavia, 35 

Poitiers, 29 

Quebec, 67 

Ramillies, 61 

Sedan, 100 

Solferino, 92 

Spicheren, 100 

Spurs, of the, 34 

Steenkerke, 58 

Trafalgar, 80 

Valmy, 72 

Waterloo, 84 

Worth, 100 
Bazaine, Marshal, 100, 101, 107, 119, 


Beet-sugar, 265, 268, 269 
Berthelot, 153 
Bolo " Pasha," 222, 224, 225 
Boulanger, General, 142-147, 155 
Bourbaki, General, 102 
Bourbon, 31, 64; claimants, 110, 111 
Bourgeois, Leon, 153, 164, 231 
Bouvines, battle of, 27 
Brazza, S. de, 134 
Briand, 166-172, 193, 198, 199, 213- 

218, 237-239 

Brisson, 141, 142, 143, 156 
Brittany, 25, 27, 32, 33, 34, 44, 52, 62 
Broglie, Due de, 118, 120, 121, 126, 127 
Brumaire, 18th, 76 
Budgets, 285-291 
Burgundy, 25, 27, 30, 32, 35, 62, 101 


Caillaux, 167-174, 210, 217-224 
Caillaux, Madame, 174, 211 
Calais, 25, 37, 39 
Cameroons, 151 




Camisards, 60 
Canada, 65-67 
Canals, 22, 279-280 
Capets, rise of, 25 ; last of the, 28 
Carnot, Sadi, 142, 145, 146, 150, 152 
Casimir-Perier, 121, 149, 152 
Castelnau, General de, 183, 186-188, 194 
Cereals, 267 

Chambord, Comtede, 110-112, 118, 120 
Charlemagne, 24 
Charles the Bald, 24 
Charles V, 29 
Charles VII, 31, 33 
Charles VIII, 32, 33, 35 
Charles V (Emperor), 35, 36 
Charles IX, 39 
Charles X, 87, 88 

China, 129, 134, 138-142, 150, 154, 168 

Choiseul, Due de, 67-69 

Chronological tables, 254-261 

Church, the, 71, 75, 78, 81, 93; 

Napoleon III and Rome, 98; 

113, 114, 115, 117, 125, 131, 133, 

137 ; Pope recognises Republic, 

149 ; 158 ; Combes disperses 

orders, 160; 161; separation 

from the State, 165, 166, 167, 247 

Ctemenceau, 7, 135, 146, 166-170, 202, 

205, 214, 218-236, 248 
Coal, 234, 266, 273, 274 
Code Napoleon, 78 
Colbert, 54, 55 

Colonies and colonisation, 45, 56, 57, 
58, 59, 60, 62, 63, 65, 67, 68, 79, 
129, 133, 134, 135, 138, 139, 140, 
141, 148, 149, 158 
Combes, 160, 161, 163 
Commerce, 278, 279 
Commune, the, 103-107, 110 
Confederation, of the Rhine, 79; Ger- 
manic, 95 
Conference : 
Madrid, 163 
Algeciras, 163, 164 
Paris, 228, 229, 230 
Washington, 237 
Cannes, 237, 239 
Genoa, 238 
London, 238 

Congo, 134, 138, 140, 148-151, 171 
Congress, of Vienna, 84 ; of Berlin, 132 
Constituent Assembly, 71, 72, 115, 121 
Constitution, present, 123 
Consulate, 76-78 
Crecy, battle of, 29 
Crusades, 26 


Damage caused by Great War (r. 
Devastated regions) 

Debt, foreign, 287 

Decazes, Due, 119, 128-132, 138 

Decrees : 

Berlin, and Milan, 81 
Delcasse, 7, 151, 154-163, 165, 169- 

J- / .<", u JLo 

Deschanel, Paul, President, 236, 237 

Devastated regions, 233, 234, 267, 268 

Directory, 73-76 

Doumergue, 173 

Dreyfus, the Affaire, 155-157, 160, 167 

Dupleix, 66 

Dupuy, 149-152, 156 


Economic situation, 265-280 ; conclu- 
sions, 280 
Education, 126, 131, 133, 137, 143, 

^tOj *- O A 

Edward VII, King, 159, 161 

Egypt, 74-79, 130, 136, 138, 148, 157, 

Elections (v. also Scrutin de Liste), 143. 

147, 235, 236 

Empire, First, 80-85 ; Second, 90-100 
Exchange, rates of, 292 
Exports and imports, 247, 269, 278, 279 


Fallieres, Armand, President, 166, 169 
Faure, Felix, President, 152, 156, 157 
Favre, Jules, 100, 101, 103, 108 
Ferry, Jules, 7, 131-150, 171 
Feudalism : rise, 24 ; growth, 26, 27, 

31 ; decay, 32, 69, 71 
Finance, reform of, by Sully, 44, 46 ; 
by Emery, 50 ; Law's schemes, 65 
by Necker, 70 ; 103, 108, 119, 135, 
144, 169, 234, 267, 280; history 
of, 281-284 ; modern, 285-292 ; 
present situation, 286 
Fisheries, 271 

Flanders, 25, 27, 28, 29, 188, 189 
Floquet, 146 
Foch, General, 183, 186-192, 198, 200- 

206, 217, 228, 243, 248 
Food, 19, 226 ; industries, 271 
Forests, 18, 266, 270 
France : 

National Soul, 6; character and 

civilisation, 245-253 
Entente with Britain, 8, 9 
Future, 8, 9, 244, 253 
Geographical description, 17-23 
Language, 18 
Climate, 20 
Francis I, 35, 36, 37 
French, Sir J., 182-185, 189, 191 
Freycinet, de, 131-149 



Fronde, the, 50, 51, 53 

Fructidor, Revolution of 18th, 74, 75 


Gambetta, L6on, 7, 100-103, 113, 115, 
121, 125-133, 135-139, 144, 145 

Gasconv, 25 

Gauls, 17, 18, 21 

Geographical, general, 17-23 

German Empire : 

French relations with, 97; 1870-71 
war, 100-104; 119, 129, 142, 154, 
156, 162, 163, 165, 170, 171 
Proclamation of, 103 
outbreak of Great War, 176-178 ; 
the war, 180-210 ; 249 

Gibraltar, 60, 64, 65 

Goblet, 144 

Great Britain, rapprochement with, 
161, 162 ; future relations with, 

Great War : 

outbreak of, 175-179 
mobilisation, 178, 211 
Germany declares war, 178 
Germans invade Belgium, 179, 182 
French plan of campaign, 181 
landing of British force, 182 
French invasion of Alsace-Lorraine, 


French attack in Ardennes, 183 
Mons-Namur fighting, 184 
withdrawal towards Paris, 185 
fighting round Nancy, 186 
battle of the Marne, 186, 187 
battle of the Aisne, 187 
" race to the sea," 187 
battles of Albert and Arras, 188 
battle of Flanders, 188, 189 
the Eastern Mediterranean, 189, 190 
trench warfare, 190-206 
mobilisation of industries, 191 
battles for Vimy, 191 
attack in Champagne, 192 
French troops to Salonika, 193 
Germans attack Verdun, 194, 195, 


Nivelle succeeds Joffre, 198, 217 
battle of the Somme, 196 
Macedonia, 196, 197 
Nivelle's attack fails, 200 
mutinies in army, 200 
first American troops arrive, 201 
seizure of Chemin des Dames, 201 
troops to Italy, 202 
great German attacks, 203, 204 
bombardment of Paris, 204, 227 
Foch in supreme control, 204, 205 
second battle of the Marne, 204, 205 
French attack on the Marne, 205 

Great War (continued) : 

attacks on limited objectives, 206 

German retreat, 207 

collapse of enemies, 208, 209 

Armistice, 209 

Government goes to Bordeaux, 212 

Briand becomes Prime Minister, 215 

Ribot, P.M., 217 

Painleve, P.M., 218 

Clemenceau, P.M., 218 

prosecution of Defeatists, 219, 221, 

Grevy, Jules, President, 130, 135, 143- 


Grey, Sir Edward, 176, 177, 179, 215 
Guise, House and Dukes of, 37-43 


Haig, SirD., 195-199, 201, 203, 206-208 
Hanotaux, Gabriel, 151, 153, 154, 156 
Henry IV, 38, 39, 43-46 
Holy Roman Empire, 24, 79 
Huguenots, 38-44, 47, 48, 52 
Hundred Years' War (1337-1453), 

India, 66, 73, 74 

Industries, 249, 273-277 

Intendants, 48-50, 53 

Italy, 24, 154, 159, 163, 171 
invasion of, 32-35 
influence of, 35 

Napoleon I's expeditions, 73, 77 
Napoleon III and, 91-93 
relations with, 117, 119, 134, 202 

Jacquerie, the, 29 

Jansenists, 52, 62, 63 

Jaures, 167, 178, 211, 242 

Jean sans Peur, Duke of Burgundy, 30 

Joffre, General, 182-199, 217 

Kulturkampf, the French, 115, 132 

Labour, 160, 241-244, 249 
Law, John, 65, 283, 284 
League of Nations, 230, 231 
Legislative Assembly, of 1791, 72 ; 

of 1871, 110, etc. 
Lloyd George, Mr., 215, 235-243 
Lorraine, 27, 37, 55, 103, 106 ; fighting 

in, 183, 186 ; 209 
Lonbet, Emile, President, 149, 157, 

160, 166 



Louis VI, 26 
Louis VII, 27 
Louis VIII, 27 
Louis IX (Saint), 27, 28 
Louis XI, 31, 32, 33 
Louis XII, 34, 35 
Louis XIII, 46-50 
Louis XIV, 50-63 
Louis XV, 63-69 
Louis XVI, 68-73 
Louis XVIII, 85-87 
Louis Philippe, 88-90 


MacMahon, Marshal, President, 100, 

112, 116; President, 117; 121- 


Madagascar, 138, 142, 148, 154, 161 
Malvy, 173, 218, 222, 228 
Manufactures, 275, 277 ; organisation 

of, 277 

Marchand, Major, 153, 154, 156, 157 
Marie de' Medici, 45-47, 48 
Mary, Queen of Scots, 37, 39 
Mazarin, Cardinal, 50-52, 53 
Mechanical construction, 275 
Meline, 153, 154-156 
Metals, 274, 275 
Metayers, 272 
Millerand, Etienne (later President), 

135, 160, 172, 173, 212-215, 236 
Minerals, 274, 275 
Mines, 266 
Mirabeau, 71, 72 
Monis, 170 

Morocco, 159, 161-165, 168-172 
Motor-cars, 275 


Nantes, Edict of, 41, 44, 56 
Napoleon I, 68, 71, 73-85 
Napoleon III, 90-100 
National Assembly, 71 
Navy, 87 ; organisation, 296 
Necker, 70, 71 
Newfoundland, 148, 162 
Nigeria, 149, 150, 154, 162 
Nile, Upper, 151-154 
Nivelle, General, 198-200, 217 
Noblesse de la Robe, 45 
Normandy, 24, 25, 29 
Northmen, 24 

Orleans, 25, 30-33, 48, 63 ; Duke of, 
88,101; claims to throne, 110-113 

Painleve, 199, 202, 217-219 
Panama, 149, 155 
Paris, Comte de, 110-112 

Paris, Siege of, 101, 102 

Paris, Treaties of (v. Treaties) 

Parlement, 50-52, 64, 69, 70 

Pavia, battle of, 35 

Petain, General, 194, 195, 199-206, 217 

Philip II (Philippe Auguste), 26, 27 

Philip VI, 28, 29 

Pichon, 135, 170, 220, 230 

Picquart, Colonel, 155, 156, 167 

Pius VII, imprisonment of, 81 

Poincare, Raymond, President, etc.. 

172-176, 210, 235-239 
Poitiers, battle of, 29 
Population, 247, 251, 296 
Ports, 22, 23, 280 
Potatoes, 267-269 
Property, 271-273 


Reign of Terror, 73 
Religion, Wars of, 38-43 
Renaissance, 20 ; twelfth-century, 26 ; 

fifteenth-century, 33, 35 
Reparations, 231, 233, 235, 238, 239. 


Republic, the First, 72-79 
Republic, the Second, 89-90 
Republic, institution of the Third, 100 ; 

formation of the Third, 104-124 ; 

the "Republican Republic," 116; 

birthday in 1875, 122 ; constitution 

of the, 123 

Resources, 265-271, 273-276 
Revolution, the (1789-1800), 71-76, 

245; of 1830, 88; of 1870, 100 
Ribot, 135, 149, 150, 153, 173, 199, 217, 


Richelieu, Cardinal, 46-50 
Richelieu, Duke of, 85, 86 
Roads, 21, 22, 266 
Rousseau, 70, 72 
Roussillon, 36, 52 
Rouvier, 144, 163, 164, 166 
Russia, relations with, 147, 148, 150 

154, 158, 168-170, 243 


Scheurer-Kestner, 155 
Schleswig-Holstein, 95, 98, 100 
Scrutin de liste and d'arrondissement, 

123, 125, 136, 142, 143, 146, 170 
Serbia, 174-176, 192, 193, 196, 215 
Shipping, 280 
Siam, 150, 159, 161 
Silk, 266, 276 
Social Contract, 70 
Socialism and Socialists, 149, 150, 160, 

166, 167, 212, 217, 241-244 



Spain, relations with, 29, 43, 49, 52, 54, 

69, 64, 65, 159, 164, 168 
States-General, 28, 46, 52, 71 

Tardieu, A., 6-9, 11 

Taxation, 44, 50, 69, 267, 281, 291 

Textiles, 276 

Thiers, 7, 89, 101, 107, 109, 110, 113, 

115; fall of, 116; 126,136 
Third Estate, 71 
Timbuktu, 150 
Tirard, 146, 147 
Tongking, 134, 138-143, 150 
Trade, 27, 57, 119 
Transport, 266, 279, 280 
Treaties of : 

Aix la ChapeUe, 1668, 55 ; 1748, 65, 

Alais, 1629, 48 

Amboise, 1563, 39 

Amiens, 1802, 78 

Badajoz, 1801, 78 

Basle, 1795, 73 

Bergerac, 1580, 43 

Berlin, 1878, 132 

Breda, 1667, 55 

Calais, 1360, 29 

Campo Formio, 1797, 74 

Carlowitz, 1699, 53 

Cateau-Cambresis, 1559, 35, 37 

Cherasco, 1631, 49 

Dover, 1670, 55 

Escurial, 1733, 65 

Fleix, 1580, 43 

Florence, 1801, 77 

Frankfort, 1871, 103-105 

Gastein, 1865, 96 

La Rochelle, 1573, 41 

Leoben, 1797, 73 

Loudun, 1616, 47 

Luneville, 1801, 77 

Madrid, 1526, 35 

Nimwegen, 1678, 53, 65 

Noyon, 1516, 35 

Paris, 1258, 27 ; 1657,51; 1763,67; 
1814, 84, 85 

Partition, 1698, 1700, 59 

Pressburg, 1805, 80 

Pyrenees, 1659, 52 

Rastatt, 1713, 62 

Ratisbon, 1684, 56 

Roskild, 1658, 52 

Ryswick, 1697, 53, 59 

Saint Germain, 1570, 40 

Schonbrunn, 1805, 80 

Sevres, 1920, 240 

Tilsit, 1807, 81 

Tours, 1444, 31 

Troyes, 1420, 30 

F 20 

Treaties of (continued) : 
Turin, 1733, 64 
Utrecht, 1713, 60-62 
Verdun, 843, 24 

Versailles, 1756, 1757, 67 ; 1919, 236 
Vervins, 1598, 41, 44 
Vienna, 1725, 64 ; 1809,82; 1814- 

1815, 85 

Villafranca, 1859, 92 
Westphalia, 1648, 51 
Treaties with : 

Annam, 1874, 134 
China, 1885, 142 

England, 1890, 148; 1893, 150; 
1898,154; 1904,161,162; 1906, 
Germany, 1894, 151; 1897, 154; 

1905, 163 ; 1911, 171 
Japan, 1907, 168 
Russia, 1891, 148 ; 1893, 150 
Siam, 1893, 150 ; 1907, 168 
Spain, 1904, 162 ; 1905, 164 ; 1906, 


Triple Alliance, 137, 162, 164, 168 
Triple Entente, 148, 156, 162-165, 168. 


Tunisia, 132, 134, 136, 139, 155 
Turenne, 53, 65 

Turkey, relations with, 36, 89, 91, 189, 

Valois, dynasty succeeds, 28 ; ends, 44 
Verdun, partition of, 24 ; 178 ; battles 

of, 194-198 
Versailles, Proclamation of German 

Empire, 103 ; Peace Conference 

at, 228-235 
Viviani, 167, 173-176, 193, 212-215 


Waddington, 128-132 
Waldeck-Rousseau, 7, 142, 149, 157- 


Wales, French expedition lands in, 30 
Wars : 

Algeria, 89 

v. Austria, 92 

v. Austria and Prussia, 72, 73, 80 

v. Austria, Prussia and Russia, 84 

Austrian Succession, 65 

Austro-Prussian, 96 

Austro-Turkish, 53 

Canada, 67, 69 

Crimea, 91 

Crusades, 26, 28 

Dahomey, 148 

Early, 24 

v. England, 79-85 

v. England, Holland and Sweden, 66 



Wars (continued) : 

v. England, Hundred Years' War, 28- 


First Coalition, 73 
Franco-German, 100-104 
Gallants, of the, 43 
Great War, 178-210 
Henrys, of the three, 43 
w. Holland, 55 
India, 66 

Indo-China, 139-141 
Jus Devolutionis, 55 
Madagascar, 139 
Mantuan Succession, 48 
Mexico, 94 
Peninsular, 81-84 
Peoples', 100 
Polish Succession, 64 
Religious, 38-44 
Russia, 83, 84 

Wars (continued) : 

Second Coalition, 73-77 

Second Hundred Years', 57-85 

Seven Years', 53-60 

v. Spain, 49 

Spanish Succession, 59 

Thirty Years', 45-51 

Tunisia, 189 

Twelve Weeks', 51 
Water-power, 266, 273 
Wealth (comparative), 267 
Weights and measures, 265 
Wheat, 268, 269 
William I. (Prussia), 100, 103 
Wilson, President, 230 
Wine, 265, 267, 270 

Zola, Emile, 156, 167 

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